Due to safety concerns which amounted following the sudden popularity of the partially completed walking track on the eastern slopes of Te Mata Peak, chief executive of Craggy Range Winery, Mike Wilding, is asking people to refrain from using the track.

Public interest has "sky-rocketed" since the announcement that the track would be removed.

Since announcing on Saturday that the track would go, hundreds of people have walked it, resulting in parked cars and pedestrians causing some traffic safety issues on Waimarama Rd.

Mr Wilding said the track has created huge interest but people are putting their safety at risk both on the track itself and by parking on Waimarama Rd.


"While we understand people are curious to walk the track, it was still under construction and we are concerned about the safety of walkers."

He noted that there was also "considerable traffic congestion in Waimarama Rd, with people parking at the foot of the track".

"It's a very busy road with an 80km speed limit. People are parking on the sides of the road and, in some cases, having to cross the road to reach the start of the track. We're really concerned for their safety.

"We've decided we have no option but to close the area altogether and we ask that people please refrain from using the track," Mr Wilding said.

Fencing and signage were put up yesterday and Hastings District Council had put traffic management cones along Waimarama Rd.

Craggy Range announced that it would be removing its $300,000 walking track following an outcry from Ngati Kahungunu iwi and members of the public and threats of legal action against Hastings District Council from groups opposed to its development.

Waimarama resident Bex McNeur, who created a petition to save the controversial Te Mata Peak track, which has now reached well over 6100 signatures, said she sees where the winery is coming from.

"They didn't have a chance to finish it properly as they would have liked and to make it safer especially with the weather that we are having at the moment and the popularity of the track from members of the community I think it is reasonable for them to make the call because they don't want anybody hurt."


She said it was a "shame".

She was urging Council to see the support it had gained and to not rush into removing the track, as it had implications, and wait for six months.

"It requires a considerable amount of removing the gravel and then bringing in tons of soil to cover the 2.4km track, and then compacting it and trying to compact it to the same level as the ground underneath."

A Hastings District Council spokeswoman said council cannot police access to private land.

"However in the wake of traffic safety concerns raised with council regarding the area from which people are accessing the Craggy Range track, traffic management measures have been put in place."

The measures include warning signs and traffic cones signalling to drivers that they should slow down as there are pedestrians in the area, she noted.

Regarding the fencing of the track, "Council understands that the gate into the area is wired shut however people are climbing over it. This is a matter for land owners."

Ngati Kahungunu Iwi chair Ngahiwi Tomoana believed it was "excellent" from a safety perspective and said they supported the owners of Craggy Range and the Hastings District Council in this move.

"At the moment Craggy Range and Hastings District Council have done the right thing for safety reasons and I think it is admirable."

Mr Tomoana said, while they couldn't go back to "ground zero because things have happened," there were discussions that can be had and potential."

"I'm looking forward to sitting down with the owners in due course in the next week or so and with the council and with all the other interest groups particularly from Waimarama and we will look at resolutions going forward."