Plans to encircle Whangarei's inner harbour area with a "ring of walkways" will be a reality by the time the city's new harbour bridge opens in June next year.
Flanked by the yet-to-be-completed bascule bridge at one end and the Victoria Canopy bridge at the other, the 4km walkway will allow pedestrians and cyclists to admire Whangarei's picturesque inner harbour from every available angle.
Connecting to the Town Basin's popular sculptural/heritage trail, the concrete path will extend to the end of the Hihiaua peninsula where a opening bridge will allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the Wairohia Stream and continue southwards towards the $30 million second harbour bridge.
Having crossed the bascule bridge to the Pohe Island side, the walkway will return north up the Hatea riverbank to connect to the existing walkway along Riverside Drive.
Along the way, the walkway will feature new jetties, viewing platforms, park areas and heritage plinths similar to those installed along the heritage trail.
At a Whangarei District Council meeting yesterday, deputy mayor Phil Halse said the project was a continuation of the "sense of place" initiative that was started last year.
"The timeline is to have this project completed when the bascule bridge is crossed for the first time, so we've go basically eight months to drive this process through."
Council managers had been "sternly talked to about making sure local contractors are engaged on this project," he said.
The walkways project is expected to cost about $1.1 million, a figure that has already been budgeted for in the Long Term Plan.
District Living manager Paul Dell said staff were looking at a couple of different options for the opening bridge over Wairohia Stream, including a sliding bridge and a swing bridge.
One of the options was a bascule bridge, however "that's old hat, there's going to be one of those down the river".
Mr Dell also noted that the sculptural/heritage trails had attracted an additional 35,000 people to that part of the waterfront over the past year.
Mayor Morris Cutforth noted plans for a parkour park alongside the Pohe Island section of the walkway, saying he had watched parkour enthusiasts leap off buildings and climb up walls in Paris.