Tales from the Trail
Celebrations And Four Generations

The Waitakere Section of the Kawatiri Coastal Trail officially opened for use on Sunday 5 June 2022. To mark the occasion a special Event was curated by Trustee Sarah Stephen, which saw our local communities flock to Charleston for a colourful day of celebration.

The magnificent Waitakere Nile River suspension bridge opened in June 2021, with many since enjoying the bridge and surrounding beauty. The 2km Waitakere Section now enables users to venture further from the bridge through to Charleston via Rotten Row.

Photo Credit: Nomad Audio & Video – Waitakere Nile River Suspension Bridge

The theme for the opening ceremony was, Yesterday, today and tomorrow, with a special Ribbon Opening by four generations to see the celebrations underway. Following an informative speech by Chairman, Richard Niederer, the ancestors of James Mitchell were asked to open the ribbon and formally open the Waitakere Section of the Trail.

James William Mitchell arrived in Charleston in 1866, just as the gold-rush was taking off. Today, Johnny Currie is the Great Great Grandson of James, and attending with him, his son Curtis, Granddaughter Amber and five Great Grandchildren (Caitlin, Bella, Lilly, Tyler & Jolene) – all of whom were the lucky first to explore the Trail.

Photo Credit: Nomad Audio & Video – Johnny Currie and Great Granddaughter Bella crushing the Quiz

An abundance of entertainment for all ages offered a variety of activities to delight in. A total of 50 gold stones were hidden along the Trail, which if found, could be traded for $5.00 at the bustling Charleston Market, with its many popular stalls to browse. For those opting for a restful morning, music was on hand from the Ukeladies, easing the happy crowd into Sunday.
Photo Credit: Nomad Audio & Video – Ukeladies bringing music and smiles
A fun Quiz was created by Sarah, with questions that could be answered by searching the Trail, and winners with the correct answers were drawn by Westport Deputy Mayor, Sharon Roche. Our thanks extend to all the local businesses who kindly donated prizes. The Trail also had its own Queen Marilyn for the day, who looking rather regal in her tiara, handed out lollipops to revellers with a sweet tooth.
Photo Credit: Nomad Audio & Video – Queen Marilyn lavishes lollipops to the crowds

Adding to the fun, Underworld Adventures operated discounted train rides from the ‘Festival site’ Station. Carriages were filled with smiling adventurers for the scenic short trip, with all proceeds generously donated towards the Kawatiri Coastal Trail Maintenance Fund. And with a true nod to the area’s past, local resident Mike did a Gold-Panning display and interacted with the Trail users.

Photo Credit: Nomad Audio & Video – Train Rides with Underworld Adventures
Photo Credit: Nomad Audio & Video – Hunting for Gold

Perfectly capturing the atmosphere throughout the Event were Daimon Schwalger of Nomad Audio & Video, with wife Prue. Both kindly donated their time and expertise to photograph the activities and many familiar faces on the day.

Photo Credit: Prue captures Daimon Schwalger in action

The Pūwaha Section was the first of 8 Sections to open in December 2020. There have been 55,000 users along Pūwaha in that time, with the wider community acknowledging the positive impact the Trail and other recreational initiatives are having on the Buller District. The coming months will see four consecutive Sections open from Westport to Ōkari Lagoon, offering users 22km. The full 50km of Trail is due for completion mid 2023.

The Trail Trust is grateful for the support of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency which funded the Nile River bridge, the Department of Conservation which has provided access through conservation land, and Buller District Council for allowing access along road reserve. Also acknowledged is the exemplary quality of the Trail construction from the track building team at WestReef.

Extended thanks to the many donations, contributors and volunteers who made the Official Opening possible. 

Photo Credits: Nomad Audio & Video – Waitakere Section Official Opening Day

News Categories



Sign up for our Quarterly Newsletter