Coast |

Resilient Pathway.
Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One.


Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One is a proposed five kilometre stretch of shared coastal pathway that will connect Wellington and the Hutt Valley along a restored harbour edge, building more resilience into this vital transport connection. The constrained coastal corridor means that additional land will have to be created; consenting a varied reclamation along the edge of Te Whanganui a Tara required a very high bar to be met under the provisions of the NZ Coastal Policy Statement and the RMA.

Te Ara Tupua

The name Te Ara Tupua (The Ancient Pathway) was gifted by Kura Moeahu of Taranaki Whānui as an acknowledgment to the guardians of the harbour, Ngāke and Whātaitai, the two tupua (ancient phenomena) who created Te Whanganui a Tara in the Māori creation narrative. Ngā Ūranga ki Pito-One is the middle section of the path.

Wedged between the rail line and the state highway a narrow and incomplete one-way walking and cycling path has long existed, however most cyclists elect to ride on the highway shoulder towards Wellington, and have no option but to ride on the shoulder towards Pito-one. With cyclist numbers growing and new cycling infrastructure being rolled out in both Wellington and the Hutt Valley, the provision of a safe, physically separated route along the harbour had become imperative.









The state of the cycleway in 1978.

Since 2013 Isthmus has been working closely with Waka Kotahi, Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika, local authorities and an extensive consultant team to design a solution which would meet the cycling and walking objectives and reconnect the community with the coastal edge. To do so we had to navigate complex statutory requirements, protect and restore existing habitats and resolve complex technical constraints. A land-people-culture approach led to an overarching vision to restore of the mana and mouri of Te Ara Tupua. Listening to mana whenua revealed the names and stories of this landscape—the design will reconnect these sites of significance with the people and ecology along this stretch of the coastline. The project acknowledges the scale and significance of the dynamic physical landscape, all the while celebrating and breathing life into this layered cultural landscape.

“For Taranaki Whānui this project creates community infrastructure which speaks directly about our stories of identity and our values as iwi mana whenua.”

– Kim Skelton, Mana Whenua Steering Group chairperson.

Partnering with mana whenua

The project team formed a partnership with mana whenua to develop a set of project-specific design principles and a Kaitiaki Strategy which embed mātauranga māori at all levels to guide design outcomes. The coastline between Ngā Ūranga and Pito-one is home to many sites of significance to mana whenua. Ngā Ūranga was the pā site of Te Wharepouri, while Pito-one was home to the pā of Honiana Te Puni. Both sites are significant to Taranaki Whanui along with the bays and headlands between them.

An integrated approach to the the design means that te ao māori is embedded into the ‘bones’ of the project, for example the way that the new land has been shaped as well as the cultural expression of features on the land.  Design concepts for project features including the bridge, the ūranga, path surface markings, signage and sculptures have been developed together with Taranaki Whānui to reflect the history of the land and people.


The two chiefs, Te Wharepouri and Honiana Te Puni.

We worked with the mana whenua steering group to integrate cultural expression into various design elements. Local iwi artist Len Hetet developed a resource of concepts, narratives and naming conventions to bring to life the overarching story of Te Ara Tupua. These concepts will be further developed with Taranaki Whānui artists and designers as the project continues.

Ecology, resilience and user experience

The coastline between Ngā Ūranga and Pito-one is a crucial infrastructure corridor. Thousands of people and tonnes of freight move along it each day in trains, trucks, cars and buses. As well as providing a safe way to walk and cycle, Te Ara Tupua’s new seawalls and rock embankments (revetments) will help protect this corridor from the damaging effects of storms. These storms, like the one that washed out the rail line in 2013, will only become more frequent and more severe as our climate changes and sea levels rise.


The path lies on the Wellington Fault line; in the event of a major seismic event that blocks the road or rail lines, the path will be able to act as a recovery route between Wellington and Lower Hutt – it will be further out from the hills and cliffs, meaning it is less likely to be impacted by land slips that can be caused by heavy rain or earthquakes.

Watercolour by Charles Emilius Gold: Landslip caused by earthquake near Wellington Jan 1855.

At the business case stage several alternative routes were developed for public consultation. The harbour-side option was chosen because it offered a wider path, greater safety and connectivity, access to the coast and greater resilience benefits. The coastal route gave us the opportunity to naturalise the highly modified coastal edge and to preserve and enhance terrestrial and marine habitats. The new harbour edge will preserve existing gravel beaches—a nationally threatened habitat—for at-risk bird species and include safe offshore habitats for coastal birds. Eco-sourced native plants will further naturalise the restored coastal edge.

At the gravel beaches a vertical seawall will be used instead of a revetment. The seawall has a much smaller footprint meaning almost all of the gravel beach areas can be preserved. Ecological screens on top of these seawalls will prevent people from accessing the beaches and reduce disturbance from people on the path to the birds and other species that use these areas.

To enhance the coastal experience for users and reinstate natural character, six ūranga (landings) have been located at key sites along the length of the path. These gathering spaces encourage the appreciation of the natural and cultural history of the coastal landscape and create a more naturalised coastal edge. The precise location and form of each ūranga relates to the underlying geology; each has it’s own natural character and is named after these cultural landmarks—Piki Wahine; Tahataha Roa; Paroro-rangi Point; Karanga Point; Te Ana Bay and Horokiwi.

One of the six ūranga (landings)
B. SH2
C. Railway
D. 5m path
E. Gathering space
F. Planting

Note: Water level is illustrated at low tide.

The path arrives in Pito-One at Honiana Te Puni Reserve. The reserve sits on reclaimed land and adjoins the beach, Korokoro Stream, and the Pito-One Interchange. It is a site of significance for Taranaki Whānui who have a relationship and ongoing connection—ahi kā—in the area and the mana and mouri of Honiana Te Puni. The upgraded Honiana Te Puni Reserve will become a destination offering increased presence for Taranaki Whānui and improved amenity for recreational users and existing clubs. New buildings and landscapes within the reserve have been designed for informal gatherings and events that celebrate the narrative of Honiana Te Puni and Taranaki Whānui.

A new Whare is proposed to be sited at the mouth of the Korokoro Stream. The fully serviced building will provide a flexible space for cultural events as well as supporting activities that happen within the reserve.

Resource consent

As part of the consent team, Isthmus developed the overall masterplan for the project with inputs further supported by a landscape and visual assessment, simulations, and a comprehensive CEDF (Cultural and Environmental Design Framework). In early 2021 the project was approved by an Expert Consenting Panel under the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act. Enabling works could begin in mid-2021 and the project is expected to take approximately three years to complete.


Coastal planting and rock work will create valuable terrestrial and marine habitats, and offer a natural landscape for users to access the waters edge, rest and take in the new harbour views.

Together the three sections of Te Ara Tupua will make cycling, walking, skating, scooting and running between Wellington and the Hutt Valley a safe and attractive option for more people. More users of the shared path will mean less emissions from transport and less pressure on roads and public transport services—the infrastructure to provide this has catalysed the restoration of an important cultural coastal landscape.

Bridge at Ngā Ūranga.
A. Viewing platform
B. 5m path
C. Cultural expression
D. Existing coastal edge
E. Piki Wahine Point
F. 1.2m balustrade
G. 1.8m balustrade
H. Escarpment

The bridge over the railway will be strong and wide enough to accommodate construction traffic and emergency vehicles.

Team Members
Lisa Rimmer, Sean Burke, James Pattullo, Tessa Macphail, Zach Barker, Alan England, Lydia Franken,
Past Team Members

Blair Brixton
Chelsea Kershaw

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency

Mana whenua Partners
Taranaki Whānui

Boffa Miskell—Ecology
Buddle Finlay—Legal