Waimakariri River Regional Park celebrates 3 years
November 2, 2009
Waimakariri River Regional Park celebrates three years
Increasing numbers of Cantabrians are using the Waimakariri River Regional Park thanks to Environment Canterbury’s development of the site over the past three years.
Environment Canterbury North Canterbury councillors Jo Kane and Ross Little say the influx of new visitors is welcome.
“Three years ago, the area was home to up to 70 dumped or burnt out cars each month,” says Cr Little. “Today, that number is down to around seven a month and we have a recreational park that caters for many different activities.”
As chair of the regional council’s land portfolio, Cr Little said the park was a good way to manage council-owned land around the big braided river. An annual customer satisfaction survey carried out at McLeans Island mid year showed visitors like the range of choices.
“Ninety four percent of those surveyed at McLeans Forest were satisfied with their visit to the park,” says Cr Kane, herself a keen recreational biker.. “The park is an exceptional place, catering for activities that are not always compatible - you’ve got anglers, nature walkers, whitebaiters, mountain bikers sharing the park and in other areas jet boaters, all terrain vehicles and trail bikers. It’s a much safer place with more people using it.”
The river park makes up more than 15,000 hectares of the Waimakariri River and its banks. The Waimakariri River connects the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, while running through the Canterbury Plains. It is of great ecological importance as well as economic and recreational significance.
“There4 is growing recognition of the park as a valuable environmental and recreational resource,” says Cr Kane. “Templars Island for example boasts kowhai tree regenerating along the river, and the river along this section hosts a number of rare braided river bird species including the black billed gull, black fronted tern and the iconic wrybill.
“McLeans Island alone has 21 recreational clubs or commercial operators, a further two commercial operators in the lower reaches (jet boat and horse treks) and another 12 groups who regularly use the Park such as malamute sled dogs club and orienteering.”
The 10km mountain bike track is the most
popular development within the park.
“Not only did the customer satisfaction survey tell us that, it also told us people wanted more technical tracks, which is why a further 5km track has been since opened.”
The park has been divided into eight development stages - with McLeans, Templars and Kaiapoi Islands’ plans underway. But already, the changes have had a dramatic impact on the area and the people who use it.
Development across all eight stages of the park is due to have begun by 2012.