Punakaiki suffered from a lack of planning under National, and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage is pleased this will now change with today’s Provincial Growth Fund announcements.
The fund will provide $100,000 to help Punakaiki develop a master plan to future-proof the township.
“The famous Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki are major drawcards for visitors, as are the dramatic karst landscapes in the Punakaiki and Pororari Valleys,” Ms Sage said.
“Of course people want to come see these special places but there’s been a failure to plan for increased visitor numbers and we need better infrastructure.”
Ms Sage visited Punakaiki in November and has been a strong supporter of the Department of Conservation working with Buller District Council, West Coast Regional Council, iwi, residents and local businesses on a master plan for the area.
“I am pleased the Provincial Growth Fund will support this work. DOC is a key player in Punakaiki and has been involved with this process from the start, offering advice and funding of $15,000 to the master plan project.
“Punakaiki is a special place, but it is struggling with a number of serious issues which are very hard for a small rating base – less than 100 residents – to handle.”
More than 500,000 people visit Punakaiki every year, drawn by the Pancake Rocks and Paparoa National Park. That will only increase with the opening of the Paparoa Great Walk next year.
“Safeguarding a good water supply, ensuring there’s a sewerage system which can cope with the number of visitors, better managing vehicles, and coastal erosion issues are some of the challenges the Master Plan will need to solve.”
Ms Sage said protecting wildlife was also an aspect of future proofing.
“For instance Westland petrels are disorientated by the lights of Punakaiki and land near lights in places where they are unable to take flight again. Finding solutions that help all of the locals – both human, and wildlife is a priority,” Ms Sage says.
The plan will be developed and implemented from 2019 onwards.