Safety concerns force boardwalk closure

Published on 20 December 2021

Paihia-Opua boardwalk blocked Dec 2021.jpg

Urgent safety concerns have closed a small section of a popular coastal walking track linking Ōpua to Paihia.

A wooden boardwalk and bridge that span a tidal inlet and mangroves were boarded up last week after it was found that support piles had been seriously weakened by rot and marine worms. An engineer’s report has confirmed the structure could collapse under weight.

The boardwalk and bridge are located south of Te Haumi Beach near the entrance to the Paihia Top 10 Holiday Park off State Highway 10. The structure begins a section of the coastal track that links to English Bay.

Andy Finch, General Manager – Infrastructure and Asset Management says the coastal walk is a popular activity for locals and visitors. It also forms part of the Te Araroa Trail that links Cape Reinga to Bluff.

“The closure affects a very small part of the coastal track, but the timing is very unfortunate with the busy holiday season about to start. However, the risk of the structure collapsing is high, especially with more people and groups of people likely to be using the track in coming weeks. Public safety must always come first.”

He says there is no viable temporary fix for the piles, which means the boardwalk and bridge will likely remain closed for some months. Signs explaining the closure and advising of alternative routes will be posted as soon as possible in the New Year. “There are several alternative access points to the track that walkers can use to complete the Ōpua leg of the trail. For example, from English Bay Road.”

Mr Finch says the Ōpua-Paihia track is prone to subsidence and storm damage and the Council is planning to upgrade its entire length next year.

Meanwhile, a walking track that accesses Charlie’s Rock waterfall is also closed due to recent storm damage. The waterfall is a popular swimming spot for Kerikeri locals. Mr Finch says permanent repairs to the track will be made early in 2022.