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Council set to deliver design for safe access to Omanawa Falls

Tauranga City Council’s Projects Services and Operations Committee today received a report outlining council’s progress towards reopening Omanawa Falls to the public in a staged manner, with a design expected early next year.

There is currently no public access to Omanawa Falls however people are continuing to attempt to reach them. Some of these people have seriously injured themselves and/or have needed to be rescued. There was also a drowning in 2018.

Since establishing a project group in 2019, council has been working with Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism Bay of Plenty (TBOP) to create safe and culturally appropriate access to the Omanawa Falls, as was directed previously by council.

The Omanawa Falls are owned by Tauranga City Council and fall within the Western Bay of Plenty District Council (WBOPDC) boundary. The falls are also within the rohe of the hapu of Ngāti Hangarau.

Tauranga City Council General Manager of Community Services, Gareth Wallis, said that together with Ngāti Hangarau and Tourism Bay of Plenty it would continue to develop the design for Omanawa Falls in keeping with its partnered approach. Despite the difficult site terrain, engineering reports have identified feasible options for the delivery of safe viewing and access. These options are being developed as part of the detailed design process, which is expected to be completed early next year.

“We are fully committed to establishing safe access at the falls with full consideration to be given to the historical, cultural and environmental significance of this site.”

“Creating a design that is deliverable in this location is one of the first and most pragmatic steps to reopening the falls.”

“While developing the design we are also pursuing additional funding to reach the total project cost of around $3.86m. At present we have secured $1.86m of this funding.”

“We are also continuing to discuss with Ngāti Hangarau their future aspirations for the management, governance and ownership of the land or whenua.”

“In the meantime, we continue to ask people not to visit the falls and if you hear of a friend planning to go, please tell them not to. To ensure people are aware of the dangers, the track closure is clearly signposted to visitors.”

Ngāti Hangarau are also continuing to work with TBOP to explore possible tourism experiences at the falls, once safe access has been established.

Project timeline

  • Late 2019 project group established
  • 2020 develop and agree project scope
  • Second half 2020 begin design process
  • Nov 2020 minor works to begin on entrance/track repairs
  • Early 2021 agree and share design
  • 2021 seek necessary consents for site development
  • 2021 begin construction

For more information visit:
Tauranga City Council Omanawa Falls webpage
Visitor information on Bay of Plenty waterfalls

Posted: Oct 27, 2020,


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