Work has started on a new 3.2km pathway that will connect Hawera to Waihi Beach.

It will be known as the Ohawe Beach-Waihi Beach Coastal Trail.

Ohawe Beach is accessed by turning left into Ohawe Road from Surf Highway 45 - 5 kilometres west of Hawera - or from the other end, turn west into Denby Rd at Hawera. The descent to Waihi Beach is via a steep gravel track from the carpark at the end of Denby Rd.

South Taranaki District Council group manager of engineering services, Brent Manning, said the pathway was the first in a three-year programme by the council and will "enhance recreational and lifestyle opportunities across the district".

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The new pathway will run from the edge of Hawera, off South Rd, along Denby Rd to Waihi Beach reserve, he said.

"With a fine chip seal, the pathway will be ideal for walkers, cyclists, joggers and for people on mobility scooters."

The project would also include replacing the single lane bridge on Denby Rd with a two-lane culvert and some road widening and realignment work. The $488,000 pathway and associated works is expected to take about 16 weeks to finish.

Mr Manning said the new pathway is stage one of three stages which, when completed, will create interconnecting pathways from Denby Rd across to Nowells Lakes.

The project is just one of five trails the council is building over the next three years, with an estimated cost of $1.24 million, he said.

"The council had seen a need for more safe and enjoyable places for people to walk or cycle that were not on roads and developed this programme to enhance the lifestyle and recreational opportunities across the district."

"Thanks to existing reserves, roading subsidies from the NZ Transport Agency, some outside grants and contributions, only $200,000 of the $1.24 million needs to be funded from rates."

Other projects include:

-3km off-road mountain bike trail off Puawai St, Hawera

-commuter cycleway between Hawera and Normanby

-5km mountain bike trail linking Patea Dam to Lake Rotokare.