New swingbridge required
Locals and visitors are expressing their disappointment over a missing swingbridge at the popular Monckton Scenic Reserve at Ashley Clinton.
The swingbridge was used to access the DOC-maintained Monckton Track, a two-hour easy walk through native forest.
DOC says the bridge was removed after it became unsafe due to erosion and structural issues, and after inquiries from locals about when it would be replaced, said a replacement was not planned, unless there was enough support from users.
Ashley Clinton resident Shelley Harrison has set about gaining that support, by placing petitions around businesses and libraries throughout CHB.
“The swingbridge is an essential part of the track as without it you have to scramble down a bank and wade through a stream, which doesn’t make it accessible for a lot of older people or anyone less agile and leaves people walking the rest of the track with wet footwear.”
Shelley has been approached by Italian tourists who expressed their disappointment and heard of French visitors who were piggybacked across the stream by their Kiwi hosts, to prevent them having to tramp for two hours with wet feet.
She says recent rain has meant the stream was high and the track inaccessible.
“I have a letter from the Italian tourists, plus one from local playgroup asking DOC to make track usable for little kids.
“I also have one from a farming group in Tukituki river catchment asking for a replacement bridge, plus an email from Takapau Kura.
“I haven’t had a single person refuse to sign the petition.”
DOC Hawke’s Bay recreation officer Malcolm Lock said the swingbridge was inspected as part of a normal inspection timeline and found to no longer meet the requirements for DOC’s current standard.
“DOC must assess the use of its funds carefully,” he said.
“Data is required to ensure we are making the best use of funds.”
An initial business case was submitted to replace the bridge but wasn’t successful due to a lack of data on track use.
“Since we have been contacted about the local support and the petition, we have re-ignited the business case.
“We have a track counter in place which will help us to collect the data we need.
“The previous business case relied on staff estimates — and we will be taking the petition into consideration.”
In the meantime, the track can still be accessed via a stream crossing.
DOC advises that anyone who wishes to cross the river to check the weather and does not cross in times of high flow.
The missing swingbridge was used to access the DOC-maintained Monckton Track.