A section of the river path in central Hamilton has been closed as work begins this week on replacement of the central city jetty and Ferrybank wall.
River path users will be able to detour onto the cobblestone path that runs between Grantham St and rejoins the river path just below Waikato Museum.
The work is part of the Waikato River Works project, which began last month and is expected to be completed by February with timing dependent on river levels.
Hamilton City Council contractors will begin dismantling the jetty next week. The fixed wooden structure will be replaced by a floating pontoon, making the new jetty more functional.
The jetty replacement is one of three projects that have been bundled together to save time and money: replacement of the jetty, replacement of the Ferrybank retaining wall, and installation of a floating device (a deflector) on the river to protect critical water pipes near Hamilton Gardens.
The jetty and deflector projects will share a barge. A 300-tonne crane will load the barge onto the river on Tuesday. The Grantham St carpark will be closed for safety reasons while this is being done.
The Waikato River Works project is aimed at making the river more accessible, boosting river tourism and safeguarding essential infrastructure.
The site at Ferrybank was recently blessed, ahead of the project start.
Deputy mayor Geoff Taylor said the new jetty had been in the planning for some time and it was exciting to see it getting under way.
"Having a decent, functional jetty will open up the central city to river tourism and reinforce the link between Hamilton Gardens, Waikato Museum and the central city."
The projects were a great example of council's commitment to delivering on the themes of the Hamilton River Plan by going beyond just a practical approach, he said.
"We're not just giving the community a more workable city jetty but also one that's going to look fantastic, celebrate our Māori heritage and create an impressive new entry point," Taylor said.
"The retaining wall needs to be replaced to protect the river path, but we're also taking the opportunity to shape the bank into terraces so people can more easily relax by the river and appreciate this much-loved taonga."
The new jetty is due to open in December and will feature artwork – five pou (carvings) representing the historic significance of the area to local hapū.
The new deflector on the river near Hamilton Gardens will protect critical water pipes by deflecting debris and river traffic.
The pipes supply treated water to the eastern and northern suburbs and were exposed in 2017 after a bank collapse. The deflector project is due to be completed by January.
The jetty and deflector projects have been co-ordinated so they can share a barge, saving considerable cost.
The jetty and revetment wall projects will also be co-ordinated, as the wall runs beneath the jetty.
The Waikato River Works projects are funded through the 2018-28 Long-Term Plan.
Taylor said the new jetty is just one example of how the council is bringing to life the principles of the Hamilton City River Plan, in the same vein as Victoria on the River and the Waikato Regional Theatre.