Work to repair a slip that took out a section of the Mountains to Sea cycle trail in the Mangapurua Valley will begin next week.
The slip happened about two months ago, half-way down the valley, Department of Conservation (DoC) recreation and historic supervisor Jim Campbell said.
During the winter the Mangapurua section of the cycle trail was only open from Ruatiti Rd to the Mangapurua Trig. DoC hopes to have the piece from the trig to the Bridge to Nowhere open by Labour Weekend.
Funding to repair the slip has been approved and diggers are being moved to the site.
The Mangapurua Valley section of the trail needed weeks of major work last winter and spring. Its papa soil is prone to slipping.
Campbell walked it on Monday and he said the work done last year has made the trail more resilient.
"Those things are starting to bear fruit, but it's still a difficult geology we are working in. It's not an easy piece of country."
During last winter the barge DoC uses in the Bay of Islands made a return to the Whanganui River where it carried heavy loads such as diggers, motorised wheelbarrows, picnic tables and firewood between huts and campsites.
Diggers were moved up and down the river eight to 10 times, Campbell said. Usually this would be done by helicopter at a cost of more than $4000 an hour.
"Multiply that by 10 times and you are looking at a serious amount of money. In fact we probably wouldn't be able to afford it."
Diggers get work done faster, he said, and using them is more economical than having six people digging with spades.
For the past two months DoC staff have been preparing huts and campsites on the Whanganui River for what could be an especially busy summer season of domestic tourists. Hut wardens have been hired for John Coull Hut and Tieke Kainga, and campsites have been spruced up.
"Those campsites were built in the 1990s and they are looking fairly tired," Campbell said.
"They need refreshing."
Over the past six months, staff have also cleared windfalls and maintained buildings on the Matemateaonga Track.
The department wants to make more improvements to the Kaiwhakauka and Mangapurua tracks, and the Whanganui River journey. It is not looking to add new facilities.
"We are trying to maintain what we have to a better standard," Campbell said.