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He Ara Kotahi

There aren’t many walkways in New Zealand where you traverse dairy farms, forests, pā sites, a military camp, streams and a river in less than nine kilometres. But that’s exactly what you’ll experience on He Ara Kotahi.

The name means a pathway that brings people together, and that's what it does. A 7.1km track connects Palmerston North city directly to Linton Military Camp. A 1.8km route connects the city to Massey University and FoodHQ. The pathway was created as a commuter link to the almost 18,000 people that live or work near these facilities. But its breathtaking beauty and its location just a few minutes from Palmerston North’s CBD will make it a hotspot for tourists and families.

Photo shows loads of people walking over the new bridge, including seniors, babes in arms, kids on scooters and dogs.

Palmy's newest walkway is open!

How do I access He Ara Kotahi?

The He Ara Kotahi network has four main entrances: Ruha Street, Fitzherbert Avenue, Dairy Farm Road and Bells Road.

The Ruha Street entrance is near Victoria Esplanade and links you straight onto He Ara Kotahi Bridge. Once you cross the river you can then choose to take either the Linton path or Massey University path.

The Fitzherbert Avenue entrance is best if you are wanting to walk, run or bike the 3.8km loop between the bridges.

Dairy Farm Road is the access point for Massey University and FoodHQ.

Bells Road is the entrance at the Linton Military Camp.

He Ara Kotahi map

Photo shows map of the pathway and how it connects to local landmarks.

Tap the magnifying glass to expand the map.

How long are the tracks?

You can pick and choose to walk or cycle as much or as little as you want. One thing to bear in mind before planning your journey is He Ara Kotahi is two direct paths. To return to your starting point you’ll need to turn around and walk back the way you came.

The distances from key points on the network are:

  • Fitzherbert Ave to He Ara Kotahi Bridge (1.5km)
  • Fitzherbert Ave to Linton Military Camp (7.1km)
  • He Ara Kotahi Bridge to Linton Military Camp (5.6km)
  • Linton Military Camp to Massey University (7.4km)
  • He Ara Kotahi to Massey University (1.8km)
  • Fitzherbert Ave Bridge to He Ara Kotahi Bridge Loop (3.8km)

Do I need to be fit to do the track?

We’ve designed He Ara Kotahi to be as accessible as possible. There are a couple of climbs along the path but these aren’t deemed too hard. If you’re worried about your fitness, the pathway is easier if you travel from Linton to the city as there are fewer hills to climb.

As He Ara Kotahi is a shared space it’d be great if cyclists can look out for other users.

Please slow down when cycling in wet weather.

Aerial photo shows pathway winding along the river through grassy farmland and across the Kahuterawa Stream.

Experience the changing landscape along the pathway, from farmland to forest.

Can I take my dog?

Yes, dogs are allowed on He Ara Kotahi. All dogs must be on a leash.

Where are the toilets?

We’re installing a toilet in the next couple of months on the city side of the bridge. In the meantime, you can use the public toilets in the Esplanade.

Can I use a drone to film and take photos along the path?

The land surrounding He Ara Kotahi is owned by Palmerston North City Council, Massey University and the New Zealand Defence Force. You need permission to fly a drone in this area.

Photo shows aerial shot of people walking on a bridge winding its way through the treetops, surrounded by native bush.

Keebles Bush Crossing.

What will I see along the pathway?

On the shorter route to Massey University and FoodHQ, you’ll pass Dairy 1 Farm – Massey University’s sustainable pasture-based farm that is managed for profit as well as for teaching and research.

The pathway to Linton Military Camp is home to pā sites and a boardwalk where you can walk amongst the canopy of native trees.

There are four other bridges along the path to Linton. Turitea Bridge is the closest to the city, followed by Farm Bridge. Both are 36 metres long and have three piles anchored 15 metres into the ground. The 10 metre long Greenwoods Bridge is towards the Linton end of the path. It was built in Horowhenua and trucked in for installation. This bridge connects to a raised boardwalk which lets you walk in a canopy of native trees. The last bridge is a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.

Our Kahuterawa bridge is 45 metres long and connects the pathway to Linton Military Camp. The Kahuterawa Bridge has a limit of 20 people on it at once. Don’t be alarmed if you hear loud noises – the military has a gun range nearby.

He Ara Kotahi is a gem for wildlife enthusiasts – kārearea (New Zealand falcon), pheasants, herons, piwakawaka, tūī, kererū, mallard and paradise ducks, and green tree gecko have all been spotted along the pathway.

Photo shows couple and two greyhounds taking in the view of the city from the Turitea Pā lookout.

The view from Turitea Pā.

He Ara Kotahi bridge design

The design inspiration for the bridge is a karaka tree, with its 'roots' on the Massey side of the river and the canopy in Dittmer Reserve, between the Esplanade and Ruha Street. People flying from Palmerston North to Christchurch will likely get the best view of the tree design. The karaka has strong links to the history of our iwi, Rangitāne. Generations of karaka have lined Karaka Grove at Massey University, providing food and shelter for the people that once lived there. Karaka trees also once covered the southern bank of the Manawatū River on the flat land between Turitea Stream and Fitzherbert Bridge. Early Māori setters cleared some of the forest to plant kūmara. When the rest of the land was converted to farmland, the first European settler to farm the land protected the remaining trees. There are other significant cultural sites along the route so the Council and Rangitāne have worked closely with archaeologists to protect these sites.

Photo shows painted patterns on completed bridge, lit up at night.

Rangitāne designed the pattern on top of the bridge to symbolise the puriri waka. That's the hole that moths make when they burrow into the bark. The koru patterns represent people.

History of the site

The site of He Ara Kotahi, flanked by the fortified strongholds of Te Motu-o-Poutoa and Te Kuripaka sleeps the village once known as Mokomoko. It was a large Rangitāne village and a site of both harmony and conflict. Rangitāne had occupied the village for 300 years with established gardens, horticulture and a trading port, before abandoning it after an attack on its inhabitants.
The main Rangitāne force who defended the old village had left southward to tend to another matter, leaving women, children, elderly, and a small number of junior warriors. But with inferior weapons, defending the village was difficult. 
Upon the main force’s return and under the leadership of Chief Te Peeti Te Awe Awe, a full force hokowhitu (battalion) met the adversaries on the Kairanga battlefield (near Linton) to make their final  stand. Rangitāne were victorious and are survived by their descendants residing in Palmerston North today. 

Why did we create He Ara Kotahi?

He Ara Kotahi will provide a safer and more direct route for people to travel to work and educational centres east of the river. It will encourage people to choose to cycle, with sections of the route providing safe access away from the high-speed traffic along the state highway. It will also draw more people to the river for recreational activities – a goal in both the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord and the Manawatū River Framework.

Photo shows couple walking a dog on a leash along a limestone path bordered by mature trees.

We're expecting more than 1,000 people every day to use the route.

Who's involved?

The $19 million project has been funded by the New Zealand Government Urban Cycleways programme, NZ Transport Agency, Palmerston North City Council, Central Energy Trust and Powerco. Rangitāne, Massey University, Horizons Regional Council and the New Zealand Defence Force have been key partners in the project.