Tongariro Forest Terrain Park Report provides invaluable insights
Ruapehu Economic Development Manager Warren Furner said that Council was very happy with the Henley Hutchings (HH) report into the feasibility of a recreation terrain park in the Tongariro Forest Park even though it recommended it was an opportunity that’s time had not yet come.
“The HH report came about from Council’s partnership with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and looking for opportunities to meet growing tourism demand and access government funding through the Regional growth plan Accelerate25,” said Mr. Furner.
“Funding research such as the HH report is an essential part of providing political decision makers and potential investors with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about what the next best step is,” he said.
“In this respect the HH report found that a recreation terrain park in the Tongariro Forest Park was a good idea but one we are not quite yet ready for.”
“While the report found that there were currently other better, more immediate investment options for growing Ruapehu’s visitor industry than the terrain park concept, the Tongariro Forest Park clearly has untapped commercial potential for developing other adventure tourism offerings.”
“The HH report has provided invaluable insight into the status of the existing attractions currently available in the area.”
“It has made a strong case that the Park is deserving of immediate maintenance and also possibly additional capital upgrade investment in a number of areas.”
“These included; improving the quality of the Forest Park’s walking tracks, upgrading the 42 Traverse, providing safe year round four-wheel drive tracks, providing better management of hunting activities and ensuring access to recreational and educational attractions.”
“Significantly the HH research and interviews identified that the return to the Ruapehu community and businesses from these investments – particularly when combined with investments in other parts of the area may be significant.”
Mr. Furner noted that the HH report stressed the importance of not losing sight of the bigger picture and continuing to utilize good research to support good decision making.
“The recommendation here was to develop a ‘destination proposition and development plan’ for the whole Tongariro / Upper Whanganui area before making final decisions about investment in any particular area or activity,” he said.
“The purpose of such a plan would be to better define what the broader area offers to the market, how the Ruapehu District can be grown to best meet market demand, and what role the Tongariro Forest Park should play in that broader marketing.”
“In other words economic development is a journey and while the idea of a recreation terrain park in the Tongariro Forest Park may not be an immediate priority it is an idea we should not lose sight of.”