New viewpoint for Hokitika Gorge

By Janna Sherman

The Department of Conservation plans to build a new viewing platform to improve visitor safety at the Hokitika Gorge.
The $88,000 upgrade will discourage access to the rocky bluff, where the current track ends. The track to the new lookout will also be improved and extended.
DOC Hokitika area manager Ian McClure said visitor safety was the main reason behind the work, which should start in August.
“It means we will no longer be guiding people on to the rocks,” Mr McClure said. “It is hoped to provide a safer experience for visitors and a better viewpoint on the other side of the river.”
Project leader Paul Davidson said the second platform would allow visitors to see further up the gorge. An access track to the riverbed below would also be formed.
“We plan to lead visitors away from the fall hazard area by constructing a new 70m x 1.2m wide track to a 5m x 3.5m viewing platform,” Mr Davidson said.
“From the viewing platform, a low key track with steps will wind 15m down to the beach.”
The work follows two significant upgrades at the gorge in 2009 and 2010, including a new car park and toilet facilities.
However, a further $700,000 investment which was expected to start last year and be completed this month, was shelved last year. Those improvements included the construction of a second suspension bridge across the river and a new scenic loop track up the south bank, with three new viewing platforms.
At the time, DOC said the redevelopment was delayed because there was still work to do on the proposal. The track had already been marked out and engineer surveys and concept drawings completed. It was to be reviewed again in the new financial year.
Mr Davidson said last week that whole project remained on hold but would be reassessed in the coming year.
“The Hokitika Gorge is important to the district and we are committed to providing a safe and appealing tourist destination.”
An estimated 40,000 people visit the scenic gorge each year.