Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council is keen to see more people visiting and exploring Pāpāmoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park this summer, after noticing a drop in visitor numbers over the past few months.
While the drop in visitors can largely be attributed to COVID-19 restrictions, it was a timely reminder for Bay of Plenty residents that the hills are open.
When the Bay of Plenty dropped into Level 2 restrictions in 2020, monthly visitor numbers to the park jumped to 16,103 people (May 2020).
Post-lockdown this year it seems people have not been using the park as much, with only 9,101 visitors in the month of September.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council Coastal Catchments Manager Pim de Monchy said the park had 116,000 visitors in the year to 30 June 2021.
“I really want to encourage locals to get out there and experience the park this summer; it is one of New Zealand’s most significant cultural and archaeological landscapes,” he said.
The park has more than 1,630 individual archaeological features including terraces/tuku and platforms/papatahi, pits, middens and defensive earthworks such as ditches/maioro, and eight Pā sites, reflecting its strategic importance to many iwi over the centuries, he said.
“In addition to the cultural heritage found at the park, it also has some of the most stunning views in the Bay, from the Kaimai Ranges right through to Whakaari and the Raukūmara, and south towards Ōtānewainuku and the Mamaku plateau.
“Head on up to Poplar Lane for a culturally significant experience and or an epic new weekly vertical exercise fix.”
Mr de Monchy said Sunday was the busiest day of the week for visitors to head to the park and Monday was the busiest weekday. January was generally the busiest month of the last few years with 10,500 visitors on average (last May was a post-lockdown exception).
Pāpāmoa Hills upgrade
A site blessing took place this morning to mark the beginning of works for the anticipated Pāpāmoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park upgrade project.
The new carpark and visitor entry space, which is scheduled to be completed next year, will be the primary access to the Regional Park and will provide more than 80 additional carpark spaces, and a visitor entry space highlighting the stories of the Pāpāmoa Hills’ history and occupation for members of the public to read.
There will be a new walking track from the carpark into the park, and a footpath connecting to the existing carpark.
The new carpark will be located approximately 300m to the east of the existing carpark entrance on Polar Lane.
A small group of representatives from Waitaha, Nga Potiki, Ngāti Pūkenga and Ngāti He alongside Bay of Plenty Regional Councillors and staff, and consultants who are part of the project delivery team met at the location of the new carpark site to mark the occasion and bless the site before works begin.
Physical works for the new space should start in mid-November 2021 and includes site excavation and pre-loading with structural fill.
Boffa Miskell, Law Creative and WSP have now completed a detailed design of the new carpark and visitor entry space in partnership with representatives from Waitaha, Ngā Potiki, Ngāti Pūkenga and Ngāti He.
Les Millard, Whare Temoni, Cr Matemoana McDonald, Deputy Chair Jane Nees, Glenn McNaughton, Cr Stuart Crosby, Ropata Stephens, Verna Ohia-Gate, Cr Norm Brunning and Aroha Ririnui turn the first sods of the Pāpāmoa Hills Cultural Heritage Regional Park upgrade project.
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