A controversial zig-zag walking track on one of New Zealand's most iconic hillsides is to be removed.
Craggy Range Winery said today the walkway on Te Mata Peak in Hawke's Bay would be removed.
"Following discussions with Mana Whenua and other concerned groups this week, Craggy Range Winery has decided the best resolution to the concerns surrounding its new walking track on Te Mata Peak's eastern slopes is to remove the track, restore the land and return it to the previous owner," Craggy Range said in a statement.
Nearly 4000 people had joined the call to take action against the controversial walking track.
Criticism has dogged the $300,000 track which zig-zags its way up the east side of the Havelock North peak, funded and developed by nearby winery Craggy Range on land it owns.
Before today's announcement, Craggy Range had said the landscape would return to a natural look within months. However, this had not silenced outcry that the track application was not publicly notified given the peak's significance, especially for the Ngati Kahungunu iwi for whom Te Mata Peak, or Te Mata o Rongokako, has ancestral, historical and future importance.
A petition calling for those with responsibility for the track to remove it had gathered momentum.
"Hastings District Council have allowed Craggy Range to establish a highly visible zig-zagging pathway up the eastern face of Te Mata Peak without the involvement of iwi and with no public consultation," the petition reads.
"This flies in the face of the protections that are meant to be in place for this Outstanding Natural Feature."
As of yesterday 3850 people had signed the online petition, created by Havelock North resident Anna Archibald about a week ago.
Ms Archibald said she started the petition a week ago, as she had been "appalled to see such a scarring on the eastern face of the peak".
"I really felt for Maori-dom because this is probably the most important ... thing to them in Hawke's Bay, and it is probably the most important view as it's used to promote and advertise Hawke's Bay on so many different levels."
Ms Archibald hoped the recipients of the petition would respect what it stood for.
"Everybody says it will soften with time and you won't see it … it will be there forever which is why we're asking for the remediation of it.
"The aim is to remediate ... not to leave it how it is now but make some form of effort to return it to its former glory."
Yesterday Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said when the petition was received, the council would review it and consider the issues that had been raised.
"The petition will be included in the report which council has asked to be brought back in the new year."
The council would be meeting with Ngati Kahungunu iwi in the new year to discuss the track with them. It had also met with Craggy Range this week.
Ms Archibald, who usually drives past the peak twice a day, said the current situation could have been avoided if the application had been publicly notified.
An environmental group this week stated it believed the consenting process to grant the application had been "unlawful" as the privately owned land should have been protected by legislation, given it was a "outstanding natural feature".