This section, plus most of section 6, were the first to be opened to the public in May 2006. The Railtrail, from Motukarara, is on public land managed by the Department of Conservation. The area is also pursuant to a unique Management Plan administered by the Te Waihora Management Board (Department of Conservation and Ngai Tahu).
Most of this section of the Railtrail runs alongside Te Waihora (Lake Ellesmere), where the railway embankment is raised above the lake and adjoining wetlands, affording magnificent views of the surroundings and the prolific birdlife.
The trail passes the Kaituna Quarry Reserve, the Kaituna Lagoon and Kaitorete Spit, the largest landform of its type in New Zealand. There is significant natural, cultural and historical interest along this section of the route. Kaituna Valley and Kaituna Lagoon are of particular importance to many Canterbury Papatipu Runanga.
Seven new bridges have been built to replace the original bridges that were removed. The historic bridge piles and abutments have been preserved. The old rail corridor has been fenced (through the Sustainable Management Fund) to encourage the regeneration of native wetland vegetation and association wildlife. Previously the area was widely grazed by cattle which prevented regeneration. With only sheep grazing the Railtrail, native species should regenerate. Sheep grazing helps to manage introduced grasses.
The original Motukarara station was restored and relocated on to the trail at the Fiddlers Road entrance by the Lincoln Rotary Club, who were also responsible for landscaping the Station area. A new toilet block has been installed and a car parking area has been provided on Park Rd.
At the Ataahua Reserve (Kaituna Quarry) the car park and landscaping were provided by the Hornby Rotary Club. The car park is accessed directly from State Highway 75. DOC has installed a toilet on the approach path between the Railtrail and the Kaituna car park.
February 2012 Update
The Hornby Rotary Club, with assistance from the Christchurch City Council, are planning to landscape the pathway between the Railtrail and the Kaituna car park during 2012.
DOC and Ngai Tahu will be installing an interpretation panel by the lake front at Kaituna. This will be one of five interpretation sites around Te Waihora.