Butler on Ohinemuri River Walkway


Who Are We?
Current Trends
Health and Safety
Walkway Standards

Up ] Ohinemuri River Historic Walkway - Discussion Document ] [ Butler on Ohinemuri River Walkway ]

Ohinemuri River Walkway Development Proposal

by Trevor Butler, Frame Group

These notes follow a visit to parts of the proposed walkway from Waihi town to the Victoria Battery site on 31st August accompanied by Eric Lens and Ruth Ordish. Technical recommendations have been made for the structures required on the walkway as well as more general comments on the walkway proposal and issues relating to its development.

Walkway Concept

bulletThe proposed walkway has several of the elements that characterise a successful community walkway project. These are:
bulletClose proximity to a community. (Within walking distance of Waihi township)
bulletStrong heritage link to the community
bulletSeveral visible heritage features along the route
bulletA significant destination (The Victoria Battery site)
bulletAn alternative return journey option (Waikino railway)
bulletProvides alternative short walk/picnic opportunities
bulletSuitable in length for providing worthwhile/challenging exercise
bulletSuitable for bicycles
bulletGood scenery
bulletI believe the walkway is likely to attract a number of groups including:
bulletLocal residents who will use the walkway for recreational walking.
bulletLocal residents who use the walkway for more active biking/running.
bulletRegional visitors who use the site as a one day outing in association with the railway link from Waikino.
bulletCoastal holiday visitors seek an alternative activity to the beach.
bulletOut of town visitors from Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton who visit the area for a weekend and walk the walkway as part of enjoyment of other attractions in the area.
bulletPassing tourists (NZ and international) who walk part or all of the walkway whilst passing through the area.
bulletThere is potential for spin-off benefits to several local businesses
bulletThe railway operator and café operator
bulletLocal service businesses (café’s etc)
bulletLocal accommodation and restaurants
bulletOther local servicing businesses
bulletPotential shuttle service and other walkway related businesses
bulletIncreased interest on walking and cycling in the local community resulting in better community health.
bulletThe recent proposal by Transit NZ to encourage SH27 to be used as the main Ak-Tauranga route will decrease through traffic on this section of SH2 and make the area more attractive for recreation. Waihi will need to capitalise on this to offset any adverse economic effects from the loss of passing traffic. This should be seen as an opportunity.

Development Programme

bulletI believe it is best to establish the walkway in stages along the proposed route, constructing each stage to the proposed final standard. This has the advantage of demonstrating to people the intended final standard and of providing a quality experience from the outset.
bulletAn initial stage would be the construction of the Ohinemuri river bridge and development of the walkway from the Waihi town to the area below the dam (potential picnic spot). This would provide an immediate walking opportunity for residents as well as access to the dam and start of the tramline and water race (interpretation opportunities). It would serve as a promotion of the future stages of the walkway. Other successful walkway developments (New Plymouth coastal walkway) have typically developed from a shorter length of good quality walkway which has been extended in stages.


bulletThe bridge structures necessary for the walkway should be constructed to the width and standard that will ultimately be necessary for the future demand on the walkway. This is preferable to constructing lesser structures with the intention of upgrading later.
bulletThe following design parameters are recommended:
bulletDeck width 1.4m (enables safe use by cycles & pedestrians as well as ATV and excavator maintenance vehicle access)
bulletType A barriers on bridges near Waihi end of walkway (battens at 100mm spacing or netting)
bulletType B barriers on bridges along main walkway (horizontal rails with maximum 300mm gap)
bulletThe following schedule outlines the required structures:




Main Ohinemuri River Crossing (Upstream of Dam)

Approx 55m span x 1.4m wide suspension bridge located on tramline alignment. Timber pole towers approx 6m high embedded in augured holes. Timber deck. Netting handrails. (Similar design to Waitawheta Filter House bridge). Concrete deadman anchors. Liaison with Env Waikato will be necessary to agree flood clearance levels. Preferred deck level is at that of original tramline. Estimated cost: $67,000

Dam TL abutment viewing area

Visitor protection from falling needed at obvious viewing point on dam abutment. Solution is to lower soil level behind abutment so that existing concrete provides protective barrier for viewing area. Provide boxed step access.

Water race bridge

8.0m long x 1.4m wide single span timber bridge. Glulam timber beams and timber (type A) barrier. Timber piles. Locate as high as possible to achieve 1:8 max grade on approach from picnic area and 1:8 grade climb to terrace. Estimated cost: $9,000

McKinney Rd End Bridge

7.0m long x 1.4m wide single span glulam bridge on timber piles. Set below terrace level and form approaches at 1:8 max grade. Alternative is 750 diam culvert on Ohinemuri river flood plain. Estimated cost: $7,500

Tramline # 1 Bridge (McGoughan)

8.0m long x 1.4m wide glulam timber bridge over existing stone abutments. Timber piles located in front of abutments to avoid disturbance of the stonework. Type B barriers each side. Small retaining wall each end. $8,500

Water Race bridge

7.0m long x 1.4m wide glulam timber bridge spanning the tramline cutting. Concrete pad foundations each side. Barriers sheathed with timber to mimic the water race bridge.

Tramline # 2 Bridge (Sing)

Three span (2.5m, 7.0m, 2.5m) 12m long x 1.4m wide glulam timber bridge positioned at tramway level. Timber pole piers and piles. Est cost: $14,000

Tramline # 3 Bridge (Cummings)

5.0m long x1.4m wide timber bridge set at tramline level. Pile foundations. Est cost $4,800

Tramline # 4 Bridge

Site not visited. Assumed 8m long x 1.4m wide glulam timber bridge with piled foundations. Est cost: $8,500


bulletSome of the bridges will be located within the 100yr flood level of the Ohinemuri river. There will be a minor risk of damage to these structures during a severe storm event. It is not unusual for pedestrian bridges to be located within 100yr flood zones, however this may require some negotiation with Env. Waikato and the Hauraki DC.
bulletThe bridge decks would be designed to carry stock hoof loads (dairy cows etc). This would not require any special strengthening, however if provision for horses was required, extra deck strength would be necessary.
bulletThere is potential to standardise the bridge design to reduce design costs and to facilitate pre-fabrication.

Walkway Construction

bulletTo facilitate the widest range of visitor capability, a formed benched walkway with a 1.0m to 1.4m wide metalled surface is recommended, with a side drain. This would enable all year round use by walkers in street shoes without muddy sections detracting from the experience.
bulletWhere stock have access to the walkway, some hoof damage may occur but provided the surface is compacted, this is likely to be minimal.
bulletFencing off and retirement of the marginal strip is the best option, but is not essential, even though a formed metalled walkway may be provided.


bulletThere may be merit in setting the sights higher. It is not uncommon for communities to be able to raise significant sums for such projects. (A group in Taranaki has raised over $500k for the restoration of a 1927 road suspension bridge).
bulletIf the standard is set high, the potential benefits to the community will be more visible.
bulletDoC may be able to be encouraged to fund fencing of the marginal strip or purchase of sections of the marginal strip that are necessary to protect important heritage features.
bulletFunding is likely to be easier to achieve on a progressive basis if the first section is developed and is demonstrated to be good quality and offer good facilities.
bulletYour budget should include allowance for development of the ancillary assets that will mark the success of the project (eg good interpretive signage, seating, picnic facilities etc.).

I hope my visit and these notes are of benefit to you. I wish you every success and congratulate your group on the enthusiasm and foresight.


Trevor Butler

Consultant, Frame Group Ltd

Back to Top


Waihi District Walkways Inc. PO Box 241 Waihi New Zealand

Send e- mail to: Waihi Walkways