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Pathway volunteers go where army feared to tread

A near-vertical drop almost stopped the creation of a special Marlborough pathway in its tracks.

The pioneering team behind construction of The Link Pathway have revealed how a steep section almost ruined their dream of linking Havelock to Picton.

But when even when the NZ Army said it could not be done the team refused to give up and the section is now finished.

Project co-ordinator Rick Edmonds says the two kilometre stretch of pathway between The Grove and Momorangi Bay proved almost impossible to build.

“We explored the hill side between the road and the sea in this area, and identified it was a “must do” to achieve our overall vision of creating a quality pathway…

“In places, there was a near-vertical drop from the edge of the road to the sea below.

“Then we had what we thought was a great idea …. we wrote to the NZ Army, and suggested they might like to take on building this section of the Link Pathway as a practical exercise,” he says.

The Link Pathway project began in 2005 when some Marlborough Sounds residents came up with a plan to link local communities.

The vision grew to become a continuous pathway on public land between Havelock and Picton which extended the Queen Charlotte Track.

The team had hoped the army could take on building this part of the pathway as a hand-on practical exercise for their engineers.

But while keen to help, the visiting army team ruled the task too tricky.

“A group of officers came and after talking to us about our aspirations, spent a couple of days sussing out the hillside.

They indicated it couldn’t be done. And so…. we did it ourselves,” says Rick.

While the terrain tested their abilities, it was dealing with the weather that proved to be the hardest part of the challenge.

“With severe rain last winter setting us back a tad, consents proving burdensome, construction equipment being stolen, and dumped rubbish was encountered everywhere.

“But we are pretty chuffed with the finished pathway,” Rick says.

The pathway is complete from Anakiwa to Picton around 6 kms left to do around Mahakipawa and Linkwater.

It is with a great sense of pride they completed the challenge with funding from Kathmandu, Rata Foundation, and Department of Conservation, and donated engineering services from Davidson Group.

“The construction team of Nathan, Derek, Arlyn, Carlos, Brian, Wayne,  and lots of Outward Bound students achieved what the NZ Army couldn’t,” says Rick.

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