The Tauranga City Council expects to spend close to $4 million on designing and reopening Omanawa Falls.
The council today received a report outlining their progress towards a safe opening to the public with plans to have the design ready by early next year.
The cost for the project is estimated to be about $3.8 million but only $1.86 million of funding had been secured at this stage.
There is currently no public access to the falls, however, people are continuing to attempt to reach them.
Some of these people have seriously injured themselves or have needed to be rescued. There was a drowning at the site in 2018.
Since establishing a project group in 2019, council had been working with Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism Bay of Plenty to create safe and culturally appropriate access to the Omanawa Falls, as was directed previously by council.
The Omanawa Falls is owned by Tauranga City Council and are within the rohe of the hapu of Ngāti Hangarau.
The council's general manager of community services Gareth Wallis, said that together with Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism Bay of Plenty it would continue to develop the design for Omanawa Falls.
Despite the difficult site terrain, engineering reports have identified feasible options for the delivery of safe viewing and access, he said.
These options are being developed as part of the detailed design process, which is expected to be completed early next year.
"We are fully committed to establishing safe access at the falls with full consideration to be given to the historical, cultural and environmental significance of this site.
"While developing the design we are also pursuing additional funding to reach the total project cost of around $3.86m. At present we have secured $1.86m of this funding."
Discuss with Ngāti Hangarau would continue about their future aspirations for the management, governance and ownership of the land, he said.
"In the meantime, we continue to ask people not to visit the falls and if you hear of a friend planning to go, please tell them not to."
Ngāti Hangarau would continuing to work with TBOP to explore possible tourism experiences at the falls, once safe access had been established.
2019 - Project group established
2020 - Develop and agree project scope, design process begins and minor works start on entrance and track repairs
2021 Share design, seek necessary consents and begin construction