Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycleway
Photo by Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycleway

Northland Trails Project will create unique two-coast loop

A newly formed project team is planning a 700km network of trails looping around Northland’s East and West Coasts.

The project team is revitalising a comprehensive 2018 Northland Walking and Cycling Strategy. In October 2023, Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa signed a memorandum of understanding with Whangarei District Council and Bike Northland, establishing a partnership to implement a Northland Regional Walking and Cycling Project. The project wants to develop and secure feasible trail access across Te Taitokerau so Northland can be a world-class coastal walking and cycling destination.

Amanda Bennett

Amanda Bennett

The resulting project team has now appointed Amanda Bennett as its new project lead.

Ms Bennett previously worked at Kaipara District Council, where she helped complete Stage One of the Kaihū Valley Trail.

Through this work, she talked to many other Northlanders about the existing 2018 Northland Walking and Cycling Strategy. Everyone she spoke to wanted to move the strategy forward – to transform Northland into a magnet for walkers and cyclists.

Their vision for Northland was a 700km pilgrimage loop that people could walk and ride – but also link together with buses, boats, and trains while they explore the outdoors.

When completed, the network of trails will be special because they will form a giant connection between two very different coasts. The East Coast is known for its beautiful scenic beaches, and the West Coast for its rugged, wild scenery and coastlines. Uniquely, people will be able to easily link between these two coasts along the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycleway and the potential Dargaville to Mangawhai Trail.

Ms Bennett says there have been lots of reports and lots of talking. “No more reports are required – we need to make it happen."

“I feel in my soul that it is going to make a huge difference for Northland.”

The project team is focused on creating a unified visitor experience for tourists – and harnessing for Northlanders the economic development that comes from creating a great experience for cyclists and walkers.

Ms Bennett says the strategy will also support locals to walk and bike. While most people biking Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycleway are visitors from outside the region, 40% of locals are also biking on it. Trails such as these help people stay mentally and physically healthy, and they create important links between communities.

Ms Bennett says this is the thing she is looking forward to the most – creating connections between local communities.

Her first step as project lead will be to organise hui in each local council area in late March and April. These sessions will talk with key stakeholders, tangata whenua, and community members. They will provide updates on existing trails and seek ideas for future community trails. Interested participants can register by contacting Amanda Bennett.