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Tuesday
May192015

Karaka Track

Something really good is happening at the back of Thames.

It is an initiative by the Thames Mountain Bike Club to get the Karaka and Waiotahi Tracks sorted - and not before time - they have suffered from DoC and Council neglect for far too long - a complete 'put-off' for people wanting to access the otherwise wonderfully accessible Crosbies Hut. See my post from 5 March 2014          .

Here are some extracts from the Late paper that went to the TCB on Monday, and spoken to by TMBC Club representative Ric Balfour in Public Forum. 

The TMBC applied for and has been the recipient of a $15,000 grant from Trailfund. The general purpose of the grant was for the construction of two bridges and a boardwalk on the first section of the Karaka Track owned by TCDC. By accessing these sites with the machinery required, then further general track formation work could occur more easily.

Although identified with DoC signs at its entrance, the Karaka track follows an alignment that is mostly on Council road reserve for approximately the first five kilometres into the Coromandel Forest Park.

It was originally created to access mining claims which is quite evident even within a comparatively short distance of Karaka Road. Since mining operations ceased the track has become an easily accessed recreational opportunity for the general public. Over more recent times this track has been host to the annual "Surf to Firth" event and there has also been continuing usage by general walkers, Tramping Clubs and now the Thames Mountain Bike Club (TMBC).

The TMBC are intending to continue the impetus into the future and intend to seek further funding for additional work to improve the track along its alignment creating a high standard trail circuit behind Thames.

This is excellent news, and the newly formed Club is anxious to get started - no TCDC financial commitment is required other than the fact that the bridges must become Council assets as they are on Council land, and therefore a TCDC commitment for future R & M. 

As stated in the Paper:

For many people, the Karaka Track ends after the first 600m where the first creek crossing occurs. At this point many turn back and treat the track as a short walk. For the more experienced, a creek crossing is required, and from that point on the track deteriorates.

Installing a bridge at this first creek crossing will improve the track to that point, as improvements will need to be made to allow machinery and materials to access the construction site.

A new bridge will open up the Karaka Track to more users. It is anticipated that people will still use the Karaka Track as a short walk experience, but they would now have the opportunity to lengthen that short walk to a 90+ minute experience.

The Karaka Track will also become a better destination for trampers and walkers because bridging the stream crossing will allow easier access to the back country.

Also:

The construction details provided have been professionally designed by a structural engineer. The design includes Class B rails which suit the Day Visitor class and effectively means that the structures have more safety features than normal for a track catering for the BCA visitor group. This is a good thing considering the track is within 600metres of an urban area and will likely be also used by less experienced individuals, including children.

The ongoing maintenance and depreciation costs of the two new bridges is estimated to be $1,200 per year.

Not only will this provide better access to the Waiotahi for the round trip - probably about three hours, but it will also provide a further incentive to finalise the Victoria St Extension access that DoC have recently improved remarkably by opening up the top of the road access and installing a bridge as well as clearing the first part of the historic old miners track. It joins the Ridge track to Crosbies, and will probably in time provide by far the fastest access to Crosbies from Thames. But it will also  provide a three to four hour round trip from Karaka - maybe less because of the road access. All that is required is better parking facilities at the top of the Victoria St. Extension. This recent improvement resulted from an approach made some two to three years ago by the Kauaeranga Tramping Club.   

It is interesting to note that both access tracks adjoin private property where occupiers have enjoyed substantial privacy over the years. As you can imagine, neither are overjoyed at this turn of events, and I guess we need to be mindful of sensitivities in that direction. The access tracks run immediately alongside houses and gardens, and a cheerful wave and greeting is infinitely preferable to aggressive assertion of rights. Confined dogs are present on the Karaka access. 

The Club also noted that it has strong support from Search & Rescue, and the Surf to Firth event organisers - they will assist with the work. The covering report notes that this will be the only mountain biking course north of Taupo that has hut access - that alone could make it a winner. The Ridge Track has spetacular views both sides of the Peninsula, and it could become a real attraction without all the hooha and cost involved in the Great Walks Cathedral Track on the other side. But parking will be an issue, and Council will have to deal with that in due course as it becomes popular, as it inevitably will.   

Thumbs up to the Thames Mountain Bike Club for this initiative - self help at its best!

 

 

 

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Reader Comments (2)

A great big 'thumbs up' to the Thames Mountain Bike Club - they are a focussed and positive group of people who quietly beaver away in the background actually doing things; no puff and blow and hands out for help. Congratulations to all their members on very good and useful work being done.

May 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

It's great that after more than 3 years of beavering away at this Karaka project, we are fianlly moving forward :). This is thanks to many parties including the Thames Communtiy Board and TCDC staff. There is certain potential for this track to be the crown attraction in the Coromandel for overnight tramping and mountain biking.

Thanks to all parties, on behalf of Thames mountain Bike Club.

May 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRick Hawkeswood

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