A dedicated heritage group is being planned for the Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka valleys and walking tracks at the Bridge to Nowhere by the Department of Conservation.

To form the group, a public meeting will be held at the Raetihi Cosmopolitan Club on July 26 at 11am, led by Whanganui DoC spokesman Jim Campbell.

This week DoC ranger Adele Meyer said the fascinating history of the area would appeal to a wide range of people.

"So we've advertised the public meeting throughout the country," Ms Meyer said.

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In a written statement, DoC said the Mangapurua and Kaiwhakauka valleys were rehabilitation settlements where land was offered to returned soldiers after World War I.

Those early pioneers had provided the area with its unique historic quality, it said.

"At the peak of settlement there were 30 farms in the Mangapurua and 16 in the Kaiwhakauka but problems such as poor access, bad erosion and falling prices for stock during the Depression years forced most of the settlers to abandon their farms."

And the few remaining farmers were forced to leave in 1942, when the Government, which was short of money, refused to maintain the flood-damaged road.

Now the isolated valleys were regenerating in native forest, but there were still signs of the original settlement for visitors to the area to see, DoC said.

The Bridge to Nowhere in the Mangapurua Valley was an icon within the Whanganui National Park and a major visitor destination.

By the time the bridge was completed in the late 1930s, areas of the Mangapurua Valley were deserted, the bridge rarely used and the construction of the road to the Whanganui River abandoned.

Ms Meyer said DoC was hoping to have a large turnout of interested people at the meeting.

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