We are pleased to announce the opening of the new visitor boardwalk around the crater rim and lower tihi (summit) of Maungawhau / Mt Eden.
Commissioned by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, the boardwalk was designed by Isthmus, together with Stellar Projects Engineers, the Tūpuna Maunga Authority team, HEB Construction and managed by Chester Consultants. Its completion provides long-overdue protection for Maungawhau, the volcanic cone which is a taonga in every sense of the word.
The previous tihi track was last upgraded over ten years ago with aggregate that had since washed away, leaving uneven surfaces and ruts which were highly prone to erosion.
The new boardwalk follows the contours of the Maunga tihi, carefully winding through the tūāpapa (terraces) where the houses and gardens of the pā once sat, and the rua (pits) which were roofed for storing crops. Culminating in a 4.8m wide viewing deck at the lower northern tihi, visitors can take in sweeping panoramic views over the CBD, Waitematā Harbour, and the network of Maunga across Tāmaki Makaurau.
“With around 1.2 million people visiting Maungawhau every year, a better solution was needed to both protect the pā features and enhance the experience that visitors expect from one of the country’s most iconic Maunga,” says Paul Majurey, Chair of the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.
The Tūpuna Maunga Authority has been a fantastic client with a clear vision and strong compass for their Maunga. The brief called for a design that did not detract from the experience of the Maunga, its complex of earthwork structures, expressive volcanic form, and to enhance the experience as a journey.
“The Maunga was to remain the main feature on the Hikoi to the tihi. It was an opportunity to be minimal with materiality and reduce the footprint of its structure as much as possible. Sections of boardwalk are kept narrow, changes in direction and angle respond to subtle earthworks on the ground, platform landings reflect adjacent terraces, the handrail is light and disappears from different perspectives – all of this was very intentional.” says Isthmus Landscape Architect Nada Stanish, adding that it was “a complex site and although the design was simple in principle it was a challenge to realise on site, the whole team rose to the challenge and where there is great collaborative effort there is a great outcome, everyone wins. Through design and build, every decision was made with full consideration of the significance of the site.”
The design uses materials that will naturally weather over time and are permeable to the elements, allowing grass growth and ground stability beneath. Allowing the flow of air, water and light through the boardwalk also helps restore the wairua and mauri of Maungawhau.
Minimal disturbance to the landscape was top priority in the boardwalk’s construction. Foundation footings are screwed into the ground using a hand tool meaning no digging was required, and it’s a reversible technique — the foundations can be removed in the future leaving no trace that the structure was ever there. Contractors carried materials by hand to locations onsite to ensure the lowest impact on the archaeology of the site. All materials can be fully recycled at the end of their life.
Isthmus is also proud to have contributed to the extensive planning for the project, which included a review of historic locations and World Heritage sites around the world. Today “Maungawhau and the other Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountains) of Tāmaki Makaurau are on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status,” says Majurey
To find our more visit the Our Auckland website or go and experience it for yourself and be sure to check out the Te Ipu Kōrero o Maungawhau / Maungawhau Visitor Experience Centre, next to the Whau Café below the tihi (summit). To read more about the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, visit www.maunga.nz.