Auckland Council has bought the 78ha Byers coastal block between Karekare & Piha to link 2 long-disconnected parts of the Waitakere Ranges regional park.
Cllr Christine Fletcher, who chairs the parks, recreation & sport committee, said on Friday the block off Te Ahu Ahu Rd had been on council parkland acquisition plans since the 1970s.
It’s been bought for $3 million using the council’s ring-fenced park acquisition funding.
“The creation of the Hillary Trail in 2010 added further impetus to secure the block if it came up for sale – Hillary Trail trampers will soon be able to journey along the coast west of Piha and avoid the busy & sometimes dangerous Piha Rd.”
Waitakere Local Board chairwoman Sandra Coney, a neighbouring bach owner who chaired parks committees at the Auckland Regional Council and in the first term of Auckland Council, said it was “a vital acquisition, as it at last brings into public ownership a spectacular piece of coastline which, though close to Auckland, is wild & untamed.
“The drama of this coastline has been long recognised by artists such as Eric Lee Johnson & Pat Hanly, and now the public will be able to see its rugged beauty for themselves.
“This acquisition brings into public ownership a missing link in the west coast parkland and in the Hillary Trail. It is a wild & dramatic piece of coastline which will offer visitors some spectacular views and will open up some great new walks which are bound to become favourites of the people of Auckland.”
The purchase means Mercer Bay Loop Walk (south of this block) can be connected to the Tasman Lookout Track to form a safer & more diverse alternative route for the section of the Hillary Trail passing through Piha.
Other features of the property include blow holes & sea caves which are identified as some of the best examples on the west coast of Auckland & Northland.
The area also has a number of ecological classifications, recognising the significant landforms, vegetation & wildlife values. It has remnants of 2 historic baches, a headland pa, midden & terraces.
Waitakere Ranges Protection Society president John Edgar said: “Locals, including the Society, have had a long history in advocating for its protection – because of its natural & scenic values and contribution to ‘completing’ this coastal backdrop part of park, but also due to past proposals to develop the area into a resort-style hotel complex, which was totally out of keeping with the area.”
Mr Edgar was referring to the 1997 application by Aman Resorts International Pte Ltd, headed by Adrian Zecha, to develop a small 40ha resort at The Gap proposal at The Gap. He added: “We commend the council for following through on the aspirations of the community & park users, for securing this area against development, and for ‘closing the gaps’ in these parklands. This acquisition now completely secures a contiguous area of coastal bluffs & headlands on this part of the west coast.”
Mr Zecha was reinstated as Aman Resorts chief executive 3 weeks ago on the ruling of a London court that Russian property magnate Vladislav Doronin, must step down. Meanwhile Mr Doronin, an international developer, founder & chairman of the Capital Group based in St Petersburg, has asked a New York court to force his co-owner, US businessman Omar Amanat, to sell his share of the company. They bought Aman for $US358 million in February from Indian hotel company DLF.
Attribution: Council release, local board, protection society, Wall St Journal, DLF, Aman Resorts.