Rotorua MP Todd McClay says he is thrilled to have secured funding for a feasibility study to assess a potential alpine track over Mt Tarawera.
“Mt Tarawera is New Zealand’s most infamous volcano set against one of our most beautiful backdrops. I have absolutely no doubt that a managed alpine track would be a huge drawcard for domestic and international visitors alike,” Mr McClay says.
“This track could be a jewel in Rotorua's tourism crown. It would create jobs and offer significant economic benefits for Rotorua.”
Mr McClay confirmed a study had been commissioned to consider the economic benefits, cultural aspects and any environmental sensitivities of a proposed track.
Chairman of Te Mana o Ngāti Rangitihi Trust Leith Comer says Ngāti Rangitihi welcomes the resources made available to undertake the study.
“As the Kaitiaki (guardians) of Mt Tarawera, this maunga (mountain) is of huge cultural significance to our iwi”, Mr Comer says.
“This study is the first step in assessing whether the concept of an alpine track will meet the cultural, environmental and economic aspirations of Ngāti Rangitihi and how these align with those supporting the Great Walk concept."
"We see the project as an opportunity to share our special place with others, ensuring it is appreciated and looked after for generations to come. We would also hope that it enhances recognition and understanding of Ngāti Rangitihi history and culture,” Mr Comer says.
Mr McClay says the concept has the potential to become one of New Zealand’s great walks.
“We believe there is a powerful story to be told on Mt Tarawera and this could link natural beauty, culture and history with an exciting tourism initiative that would benefit the entire region,” Mr McClay says.
Mr McClay and Mr Comer say they look forward to seeing the results of the economic and cultural study later this year.