Sharplin Falls track ready next summer


The Mt Somers Walkways Society hopes to have a new, re-routed walking track to Sharplin Falls open to the public by next summer.

The old track has been out of bounds since February 2015 because of the danger of rock fall.

An alternative, safe route on the other side of Bowyers Stream has been on the drawing board for a number years and a working group has been progressing it for the last three.

chair Charles Ross said the goal of opening up a new route to the popular Sharplin Falls was now within reach and he hoped it would be completed in the next 12 months.

It had been obvious a number of years ago that the Department of Conservation (DOC) did not intend reinstating the old route and the only way to get the treasured destination open was for the walkways society and community to do the job themselves.

The project had been slow to get traction at times, but a good team of people had worked together and stuck at it, he said.

The process of re-routing the track to the falls has been worked through with the DOC and Ashburton District Council.The initial environmental effects assessment was a big piece of work and and completed by environmental scientist Fred Overmars, Mr Ross said.

A second report was completed by environmental adviser Bob Willis from Fulton Hogan, who submitted and supported an application to DOC, and facilitated an application and consultation with Ngai Tahu.

Just over a month ago DOC granted permission to proceed with the project, he said.

Requirements for resource consent and concession fees were waived and currently a review of the easement and concession document was under way before a final sign off.

The walkways society was granted $80,000 for the project by the Mid-South Canterbury Community Trust some months ago.

The funding was a game changer and allowed momentum to build, Mr Ross said.

Recently announced funding of $75,000 from the Lion Foundation has also been welcomed and will be used for two new 34m bridges that will cross Bowyers Stream to the falls.

“Although our other contractors are extremely busy they are looking forward to getting their teeth into a challenging community project,” Mr Ross said.

-By Mick Jensen