News & Events

Vaucluse Heights steps ready for Māori Language Week recreation

The two Vaucluse Heights stairways scaling the cliff face from the subdivision in Summerhill down to the Manawatū River, are officially in the public domain.

Photo shows the steps from Vaucluse Heights to the river pathway.

Te Arapiki a Tāne. Photo: Graham Wilson

Named Te Arapiki a Tāne – the Stairway of Tāne, the steps with spectacular views over the river are now vested in the Palmerston North City Council.

Ray Swadel, Acting Chief Infrastructure Officer said Te Arapiki a Tāne references the traditional Māori creation story.

Tāne-Mahuta, god of the forest, after separating his parents Ranginui the sky father and earth mother Papatūānuku, climbed up to the heavens to attain ngā kete o te wānanga – the baskets of knowledge, and returned to distribute them throughout the earthly realm.

Mr Swadel says the stairs briefly became popular last summer, but there was some run-off scouring that compromised step safety and the developers closed them for repairs.

“Technically it was private property. The developers still owned the land and were responsible for the steps and their safety.

“Since then, the scouring problem has been addressed, the construction of the steps is to Department of Conservation standards, and they are now part of a city reserve.”

There are 222 steps at the observatory end of the cliffside reserve, and nearly 200 metres upstream along the river beach, a further 189 steps back to the top.
Mr Swadel says people using the stairways will still need to take care as the steps are steep and relatively narrow with some tight corners and no hand rails.

“The bank has been planted with trees, and over time, the landscape will change.”

Access to Te Arapiki a Tāne is from Te Motu o Poutoa or Anzac Park, and off Vaucluse Heights, with the steps linking to other Manawatū River network pathways that will eventually include the He Ara Kotahi Bridge.

Signage that tells the story of Te Arapiki a Tāne will be erected onsite in the next couple of weeks.