A few years ago, some locals formed Wairarapa Moana Trail Trust (WMTT) to learn more about an oft-requested need: greater connection between the Featherston people and the whenua – particularly in terms of getting down to Wairarapa Moana (and back again in one piece).
After successful fundraising rounds, research, and reaching out through events such as Featherston Expos; Whakarongo ki te Taiao; Mysteries of the Moana; Featherston Christmas Parade; Paetūmõkai Featherston School bike track launch etc., WMTT were awarded funding to contract an engineering feasibility study from Rowan Sapsford at ROAM that investigates the feasibility of a route between Featherston and Wairarapa Moana Lake Domain; plus, a cost-benefit analysis.
Following much outreach and on-site consultation, a 7.24km best-option route was determined (see: Fig. 1). This route is broken into five separate segments:
- An on-road route from Featherston Information Centre to the rail corridor at the eastern end of Woodward Street East
- An off-road trail on the south eastern side of the rail line within the Rail Corridor, including a bridge over the Otauira Stream
- A roadside trail (off-road) on the grass verge of Western Lake, Viles and North Soldiers Settlement roads. The southern extent of this section will connect with Pae tū Mōkai o Tauira Te Whare Whakapapa Raranga (formerly the Golf Course)
- An off-road section using Council land and paper roads from Pae tū Mōkai o Tauira to Soldiers Settlement Road, including a bridge over the Otauira Stream
- A roadside trail (off-road) on the grass verge of Soldiers Settlement Road to the Wairarapa Moana Domain.
Construction is calculated at $1.2 million to meet a grade 2 spec. Annual maintenance is estimated to be ~$12,000 per year.
However, Wairarapa Moana is a taonga, and a place of local cultural, ecological, and historical significance. Many locals and visitors wish to connect with Wairarapa Moana more, and to preserve the environment for inanga, kākahi, and other rare species. We don’t need to tell you that Wairarapa Moana is worth a million bucks.
Well, actually, it’s more like five million bucks: The Benefit:Cost ratio for the trail is between 4.1 & 4.9 (Regional & National level, respectively). This is very strong, and estimates net economic benefits (NPV) of ~$4.1 to $5 million (at a Regional & National Level) every year.
Only a handful of these users are commuters; instead, hundreds of local single-day users meet thousands of out-of-region and international users to enjoy the Wairarapa valleys, lakes, and mountains. This represents a significant catchment for a local, boutique tourism and hospitality sector to service cyclists and walkers visiting Featherston for the heritage or the hermitage.
Make sure you have a read of ROAM Consulting’s full Feasibility Report below:
To get in touch with WMTT, write to them at: firstname.lastname@example.org