A track to a Kerikeri waterfall which has been all but inaccessible for decades is just a few months away from opening.
The Wairere Falls, on the Wairoa Stream, was once a popular swimming spot on a trail that existed in pre-European times, but the subdivision of land and the return of dense bush has made access difficult in recent times.
Although the volume of water passing over the falls is less than at Kerikeri's Rainbow Falls the drop is almost as high, and it is an exceptionally scenic spot a stone's throw from Kerikeri.
The 2km track is being built by Kerikeri Rotary, Vision Kerikeri, Friends of Wairoa Stream and others, with landowners along the stream granting access where there is no practical route along public land.
To celebrate the progress so far Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston and officials from the New Zealand Walking Access Commission were taken on a guided walk to the waterfall on the eve of Waitangi Day.
Ms Upston walked the track with representatives of the groups involved in its development and met some of the landholders who had provided access.
New Zealand Walking Access Commission chief executive Eric Pyle welcomed the minister's interest in community trail development initiatives and public access to the outdoors.
"This visit provided an opportunity for the minister to see some of the fantastic trail development work being done by community groups in Northland, in partnership with local iwi and landholders. The Wairoa Stream Track is a great example of the work being done across the country to develop new public access for current and future generations."
Once complete, the Wairoa Stream Walking Track will start at the footbridge at the bottom of Pa Rd and Alderton Drive.
Much of the track to the waterfall is complete with work now under way to build a 12m-long bridge across the Wairoa Stream.
The bridge is expected to be complete in April, weather permitting, with the track to Te Wairere Falls due to open shortly afterwards.