If I’m reading history right in the 1970s there was a small movement (amongst Taranaki locals?) for the establishment of an East West Walkway across the North Island from Cape Egmont to East Cape. It never eventuated, but it did inspire the New Zealand Walkways Act of 1975. That founded the New Zealand Walkway Commission and 12 district committees who’s aim was “to establish walking tracks over public and private land so that the people of New Zealand shall have safe, unimpeded foot access to countryside for the benefit of physical recreation”.
Numerous walkways were built, including the Matemateaonga and St James Walkways, but the dream of a continuous end to end walkway never eventuated. We had to wait many, many years for the effort behind Te Araroa to get an end to end walkway, and it isn’t quite finished yet. The running of the walkways fell to DOC and various councils.
I think there are parallels between the current National Cycleway and the 1970s Walkways Commission. It is a great idea and it will leave a positive legacy, but the scope is too small, the funding is too small and it won’t last long enough. In the years to come there is going to be another push and finally we’re going to get a linked up, nationwide, end to end, safe, cycle network. Or the National Cycleway is going to grow and change its focus from just marketing far flung tourist routes, to building urban cycleways, and linking all the disparate parts together on quiet off-road, and back road routes.
In the Wellington Region, Colonial Knob, the Mangaone Walkway (between Reikorangi and Te Horo, near Waikanae), Cannon Point and Makara were developed by the Walkways Commission.
But if you’re looking for another thing to do when the rugby is on and you’re up Hawke’s Bay way I recommend a beautiful little walk to visit Hawke’s Bay tallest waterfall, Shine Falls. It is the eastern part of the Boundary Stream reserve. Access is from Heays Access Road (turn off at the Tutira store between Napier and Wairoa). There’s a little picnic area at the start and a well formed track (probably good enough for a baby buggy) which leads over some private property through a limestone gorge.
The DOC reserve is soon entered. The gorge is kept as a mainland island with plentiful birdlife. This kereru was happy to watch me hike past.
It’s an easy walk to the falls and just before the falls there’s a small bridge over the creek leading to the track that goes up the hill, that leads to the western end carpark of the Boundary Falls reserve. That track is a rough tramping track. Up the hill there is a remnant of the Walkways Commission. A rusting, original Walkways waymarker.
And here is Shine Falls which is quite magical to walk up to:
A detail of the pool: