Parks and tracks around the Huatapu River near the Taihape township are being landscaped to enhance their natural beauty.

Friends of Taihape Society have teamed up with the Taihape Community Board and the Rangitikei District Council to get the project under way.

President Don Tantrum said many of the tracks were already there.

"So it's just a matter of linking them all together and building rest area facilities and bridges to showcase our amazing natural scenery which is only two minutes from state highway one."


The idea came after the building of the Les Thurston Lookout Tower on Mt Stewart, he said.

Society member Joe Byford said there had been huge community participation with building of the tower.

"After the tower's completion we set our sights on opening the camping area and surrounds at Papakai Park, like it was when we were kids."

Byford said Taihape town had acres of native bush DOC land very close to its township, which includes stunning redwoods that were planted by its settlers many years ago.

Rangitikei District Council's Parks and Reserves Team leader Athol Sanson is heading the project.

"This is a very exciting development. We are working under the guidance of DOC and Horizons [regional council] to feature Taihape's natural local surroundings ... the prospects of having a wonderful resource within a stone's throw from State Highway 1 will help promote Taihape as a destination giving visitors more recreational options for visitors."

The society has also engaged the services of Isthmus Architects in Wellington to develop and put together their ideas together.

There are many features within the plan which include walking, biking, horse treks, camping, swimming, fishing, and rest stops.


Mayor Andy Watson is thrilled.

"The parties who have put this together have done an amazing job, the vision is brilliant and it is a stunning spot, highlighting the Hautapu River, its papa cliffs, natural native forests and the giant redwoods."

Watson said, as a group, they have a track record of doing what they say they will by bringing community/businesses together to help with both physical work and funding.

"I am in full support and will look forward to the opportunity where I can be part of the working team."

The society has finished the design stage and is now planning its funding.

Local chartered accountant and socirty treasurer Matthew Thomas said the society (prviously known as Friends of Mt Stewart) is now registered as a charity and say if anyone is considering donating to please make contact with secretary Viv Tantrum.

"The community has been remarkable so far. We have already received pledges of support from Makokomiko Station's Trustees (who are donating 1000 native trees propagated from their lands), Joe & Tash Coogan, Wayne Lucas and other specialist contractors offering their services, as well as Don & Conchita Tweeddale who are also very keen to assist."

Once the society receives the designs and budgets for the facilities, it will seek grants, donations, services and volunteer support to see the project completed for the benefit of the community.