Only stage one of the Waipu Cycle and Walkway is finished but the initiative itself and the future benefits to the community has put it in a the running for a national award.

The 2.5km first stage of what will eventually be about 9km from Waipu township to the Cove is among 29 innovative projects named finalists in the 2017 Bike to the Future Awards.

The judges said the project sets the benchmark for community led projects and is a credit to the Waipu community.

The ambitious path began some years ago after Waipu School children presented a safety and recreational case for a cycle and footpath linking Waipu's two main settlements.

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"Council WDC originally funded $10,000 for a scoping report. Fast forward and after a further five years of community consultation and commitment the council was able to contribute a further $105,000 in 2016,'' Waipu Cycle and Walkway Trust secretary Angela Stolwerk said.

"Since then, trust volunteers have worked tirelessly to fundraise and complete stage one, and seeing it recognised in these NZTA awards is fantastic.''

The $350,000 first stage includes a 34m, $170,000 pedestrian bridge for safe crossing alongside a one-lane road bridge.

Trust chairman Tim Manning said the funding and planning model was based on the supportive but budget-constrained Whangarei District Council providing about one third of the cost while the trust and wider community raised the rest.

When the stages are finished, the cycle and walkway will become a council asset for future maintenance.

Stage two, from Riverview Place, near the rivermouth, to Waipu Cove will start around Christmas.

Backing from the community has included donations of materials, machinery and contracting by local businesses, community fundraising events and the donation of nearly 1.5km of private land adjacent to the road.

Substantial funding has also been secured from Foundation North, Transpower, Lotteries, Alex McLean Trust and the council.

The winners of the 2017 Bike to the Future Awards, organised by the NZ Transport Agency and Cycling Action Network (CAN), will be announced at a function in Christchurch on October 19.

The Waipu project is in the Taking Communities on the Journey Award category.