Hastings District Council consultants could be paid $500,000 for their opinions on what to do with Te Mata Peak's controversial Craggy Range walking track.
Ratepayer Stuart Perry, who uncovered the figure with an Official Information Act request, says it is potentially a gross waste of public funds.
The track, which is up the eastern side of the Hawke's Bay mountain, has been controversial since it was installed, with some describing it as scar on the landscape.
Local iwi Ngāti Kahungunu, in particular, were vocal against the path. They are now working with Craggy Range winery on an alternative option.
Perry said the cost of consultants associated with consultants was a lot more than he suspected.
He also asked the council how much it would cost to remove the current track and relocate it.
In its response, council said removing it was estimated to cost $200,000. One option for relocating the track is estimated to cost $280,000-$300,000, with other less expensive options also being considered.
"It's a million dollars' worth of unbudgeted activity," Perry said.
"And there is no mandate from the ratepayers to become involved."
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the estimated $500,000 might not all come out of the public purse.
"The funding sources are still to be worked through and there may be opportunities to use external funding."
Hazlehurst said Te Mata Peak was an outstanding natural landscape, which is loved and treasured by the community.
"Council is committed to getting this process right and ensuring the information from the Project Team's expert consultants is of the highest standard."
Craggy Range declined to comment on the cost of consultation.
Ngāti Kahungunu was also approached for comment but did not respond before publication.