He Ara Kotahi

Let us introduce you to He Ara Kotahi – a 9km pathway traversing dairy farms, pā sites, forestry, a military camp and an eel sanctuary. 

We’re encouraging everyone to be safe around our awa (river) this summer.

Water Safety NZ says anyone near our awa (river) should follow these handy tips to keep them and their whanāu safe this summer:

Wait 72 hours after rainfall before entering the river

Rivers are changeable and unpredictable – particularly after heavy rainfall. Riverbanks can also become unstable during and after heavy rain.

Check weather forecasts including rainfall in the hills above that could fill the streams and rivers where you are.

Look before you leap – check for hazards

Upstream, downstream and where you’re swimming. Rivers contain hidden dangers and swimming holes can change depths from summer to summer.

Always enter feet first and establish an exit point before you enter.

Keep looking

  • Can you see the bottom?
  • Is it deep enough for jumping or diving?
  • Does the riverbed drop away close to the edge?
  • Could you handle the current if you got swept away?

A safe rescue is a land-based rescue

Dial 111 immediately if you see anyone in danger, so emergency services can get there as soon as possible.

If someone is being swept downstream, the only safe rescue is a land-based rescue. Do not enter the river after them. It is unlikely you will be able to reach them to help them and you may need to be rescued yourself.

  • Follow the person in trouble down the riverbank.
  • Find a safe place where the person may be able to swim towards the bank.
  • Use an object like a tree branch to reach out over the river.
  • Encourage the person in trouble to grab the branch or paddle and hang on.
  • Pull them to the riverbank and help them out.

If you cannot rescue the person safely from the bank:

  • Encourage the person to turn on their back and float feet first down the river
  • If practical, throw the person a buoyant object like a bucket, chilly bin or ball that they can hang onto and use to keep themselves afloat. 

Learn more about how to keep you and your whanau safe in, on and around the water

Download the translated posters

These are translated posters of the water safety information.

They are available in different languages. Download and share them with your friends.

English(PDF, 480KB)  Burmese(PDF, 541KB) Dari(PDF, 528KB) Dzongkha(PDF, 535KB) Karen(PDF, 531KB)

Painted patterns on completed bridge, lit up at night.

He Ara Kotahi means a pathway that brings people together. Pictured is the bridge at night.

He Ara Kotahi provides a safer and more direct route for people to travel to work and educational centres on the eastern side of the river.

We created the track as a commuter link that connects Palmy to Linton Military Camp, Massey University and FoodHQ – where more than 18,000 people live or work. We also built this pathway for anyone seeking scenic sights only a few minutes from our city centre. It encourages people to cycle by providing safe access away from the state highway and draws more people to our river space for recreational activities.

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

There are 4 bridges along the path to Linton – Turitea Bridge, Farm Bridge, Greenwoods Bridge and a small suspension bridge.

Dogs are allowed on He Ara Kotahi, but they must be on a leash.

There are toilets on the city side of the main bridge, near Ruha Street, and another loo at the Linton end. 

How to get there

You can access He Ara Kotahi pathway via 4 entrances: 

  • Ruha St entrance – at Dittmer Reserve – takes you to He Ara Kotahi Bridge.
  • Fitzherbert Ave entrance – 3.8km loop between the Fitzherbert and He Ara Kotahi bridges.
  • Dairy Farm Road – access at Massey University and FoodHQ.
  • Bells Road – entrance at Linton Military Camp.


He Ara Kotahi is two direct paths. To return to your starting point, you need to turn around and go back the way you came. 

The distances are:

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

He Ara Kotahi bridge

Inspired by the karaka tree, the bridge’s roots are on the Massey side of the river and the canopy is in Dittmer Reserve, between Victoria Esplanade and Ruha Street.

Karaka has strong links to our iwi, Rangitāne. Generations of karaka once  lined Karaka Grove at Massey University, providing food and shelter for the people that once lived there. Karaka trees also once covered the southern riverbank on land between Turitea Stream and Fitzherbert Bridge. Māori settlers cleared some of the forest to plant kūmara. When converted to farmland, the first European settler to farm there protected the remaining trees.

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

History of the site

He Ara Kotahi sits on the same site as a village once known as Mokomoko – a large Rangitāne village that was a site of both harmony and conflict. Rangitāne occupied the village for 300 years with established gardens, horticulture and a trading port, before abandoning it after an attack on its people. The main Rangitāne force responsible for defending the village went south 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.