New walkway under construction at Fernhill Escarpment Reserve

Publish Date : 06 Jul 2022
Fernhill Escarpment new steps
A new staircase and boxed steps climb up through the native bush.

Albany locals and visitors will find it easier to explore Fernhill Escarpment Reserve later this month when most of the new walkway opens.

From the end of July, people can access the new tracks at Bush Road and Albany Highway. While the walkway upgrade is almost complete, constructing the bridge over Oteha stream is taking longer. Initially, supply chain issues such as securing timber for the bridge caused delays but now it is the winter weather. While the bridge is being built, this section of the walkway is closed to the public.

Home to many large mature trees, Fernhill Escarpment Reserve is a significant ecological area situated in the heart of Albany near Massey University and the Albany shopping centre.

The Upper Harbour Local Board’s walkway project enables more people to use the park and replaces many of the old track’s slippery sections that were difficult to navigate.

Looking up towards 2 old wooden steps in native bush in Auckland

Old track before the walkway upgrade

Chair Lisa Whyte says the walkway is an important piece of Albany’s off-road path network with the park positioned between two busy roads.

“Some locals loved the more challenging bush experience of previously, but this beautiful place is too special to remain one of Albany's best kept secrets.

“It is an oasis of nature in the heart of Albany which our growing population will treasure and enjoy for years to come once the access is improved.”

Treelined wooden boardwalk  in Auckland's Ferndale Escarpment

The new boardwalk is 270 metres long

Key improvements are:

  • a long timber bridge that creates a loop track on both sides of Oteha Stream. People can cross the stream on a 22.5m bridge and keep well away from the busy Bush Road.
  • a new staircase and boxed steps that climb up through the native bush. The boxed steps have been installed and the staircase measures approximately 100 metres.
  • boardwalks built around large trees that improve tree health and protect vulnerable feeder roots from soil compaction caused by track users. There will be approximately 270 metres of new boardwalk.

The reserve’s forest has many magnificent tōtara and kahikatea trees including a 25-metre-tall tōtara tree with a trunk girth of 6.5 metres.

Throughout the project, arborists, ecologists, structural engineers, and track specialists are being consulted to improve the forest’s ecological health and reduce carbon emissions. Flying in construction material with a helicopter to special drop sites is efficient and enables construction workers to focus on the walkway upgrade.

The project will cost $700,000 with the walkway bridge expected to open later this year.


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