Te Āpiti - Manawatū Gorge popularity soars

The number of people walking Te Āpiti - Manawatū Gorge tracks has increased by nearly 20 per cent over the last year.

Track count figures for twelve months ending in February show the main increase was for the short walks with a 25 per cent increase from 47,000 to almost 59,000. The number of people undertaking the full 10km Manawatū Gorge Track has remained steady at just over 10,000.

The Department of Conservations operations manager for Manawatū, Allanah Irvine, says with five different walking tracks, all suited to different fitness abilities, more people are able to take advantage of what the Gorge has to offer.

“It’s fantastic to have tangible proof that more people are enjoying this amazing resource that is right on our doorstep. A lot of work has been undertaken as part of the Manawatū Gorge Biodiversity Project to enhance the recreational options and biodiversity in the Gorge,” Ms Irvine says.

Te Āpiti - Manawatū Gorge Biodiversity Project spokesperson and Horizons environmental manager biodiversity and habitat protection, Bill Martyn, says the biodiversity work underway includes extensive control of the aggressive climbing vine old man’s beard. The vine smothers native trees and spreads easily via wind-blown seeds.

“Old man’s beard weed control takes place annually and this year the focus has been on an aggressive ground based approach working full-time for two months,” says Mr Martyn.

“Thanks to funding that the Gorge receives for animal and plant pest control from Horizons and other Project partners, the old man’s beard project has been very successful. It’s an ongoing process but with regular attention is easier to maintain the problem into the foreseeable future.”

The Manawatū Gorge Biodiversity Project is a partnership between Horizons Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, Tararua District Council, Palmerston North City Council, NZTA, KiwiRail and local iwi to preserve, sustain and enhance the biodiversity, scenic and recreational values of the unique site.

Track usage is calculated using data from counters located throughout the track. The count represents the trips undertaken by people rather than different people.