Millennium Track Update 11 September 2009
Work is progressing well on stage 3 of the Millennium Track from Damper Bay to Glendhu Bay. This is an Upper Clutha Tracks Trust project that is being funded and managed by Queenstown Lakes District Council with assistance from the Department of Conservation, and support of the adjoining landowners. This is another link in the Te Araroa long distance footpath.
Stage 3 runs from the small beach near the Mt Aspiring viewpoint on the road close to Glendu Bay, and a new car park has been built at the start of the track.
This part of the track is virtually finished and is able to be used with care. The track is not yet a through route and finishes at Damper Bay from which you have to return the same way. The return walk takes about 3 hours. Part of the track crosses the Damper Bay Bluff and is quite high and exposed.
Stage 2 of the Wanaka Millennium Track will run from the current end of the track at Ironside Trig and join up with Stage 3 at Damper Bay. This section is being developed by Otago Regional Council and the contractors Fulton Hogan are currently building the track. It is expected to be opened before Christmas.
Stage 1 of the track is currently being upgraded and maintained on behalf of QLDC by contractor John Sutton. If you see him and his colleagues on the track, say hello and tell them what a good job they are doing removing the boggy sections. The track is also being re-routed near Slaughter Creek at the junction with the link track that connects to Mt Aspiring Rd and on to the Mt Roy track. The new route will improve the gradient and provide a better track surface.
The Wanaka Millennium Track Story
Stage 1 of the track from waterfall creek to Ironside Trig was originally developed by Ralph Warburton and was known as the Warburton Walkway. It was later upgraded and renamed the Wanaka Millennium Track by the Otago Regional Council.
The intention was to eventually extend the track to Glendhu Bay and Otago Regional Council commissioned a scoping report to detail the route and costs of the project. The idea was to split the remaining route into 2 parts with stage 2 being from Ironside Trig to Damper Bay, and stage 3 being from Damper Bay to Glendhu Bay near the Mt Aspiring viewpoint, on the road to glendhu Bay.
The Upper Clutha Tracks Trust was formed in October 2006 and one of the early projects considered was the Millennium Track extension. We soon became aware that Otago Regional Council had set aside funds to build stage 2 to Damper Bay, and we were hopeful that the project would be started soon.
In May 2007 the Trust placed an ad in the Upper Clutha Messenger urging Upper Clutha Residents to make a submission on the Otago Regional Council Annual Plan in support of allocating funding to build stage 3 of the track from Damper Bay to Glendhu Bay.
The ad produced a great result and more than 150 submissions were sent in support of funding for stage 3 but sadly Otago Regional Council were not prepared to allocate the required funds although they did assure us that work would commence on stage 2 in the near future.
At the time the Trust was mainly focused on the Hawea River Track, but with the assistance of DOC and Trish Wrigley and Mark Symons, the Queenstown Lakes District Council Project Managers, the Trust and QLDC started planning how we could build stage 3 of the track.
In 2008, QLDC commited funds to the project and a route was marked and construction of the difficult section around the bluffs at Damper Bay was started in the summer. Unfortunately the contractor, John Sutton, was committed to other projects, and once the bluff section was completed, had to leave the site to meet prior commitments.
Happily John and team have been back on site for the last few months and stage 3 of the track is virtually complete and can be used although it is still a dead end track.
Work has just commenced on stage 2 and this should be finished before Christmas. It will ten be possible to walk and cycle nearly all the way from Wanaka to Glendhu Bay.
The Trust is currently looking at the short and final section from the new car park to the Glendhu Bay camp ground and hope that this can be developed early next year.