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Forest news

Updated 9 October 2018 9:35am

Greater Wellington regional parks and forests visitor numbers reach record high

The love affair with Greater Wellington region’s parks and forests just keeps growing, with a Greater Wellington Regional Council survey indicating more local visitors than ever before.

The survey reveals that 72% of our regional population have visited at least one regional park in the last 12 months – up 4% from 2017.

“Our bumper summer last year may have contributed this result, but we’ve also put considerable energy into making our parks more accessible to a wider range of people over the years,” says Parks Portfolio Leader Cr Prue Lamason. “Residents say they appreciate the sense of freedom that our parks offer, as well as the chance to relax and get away from city living.

“We were especially pleased to see that visitor satisfaction remains high, with 95% of those surveyed expressing a high level of satisfaction.”

Queen Elizabeth Park was the most visited park (31% of people visited in the last 12 months) – up seven percent from last year, followed by Kaitoke Regional Park and the Hutt River Trail (both at 29%).

Walking and bush walking were the most popular activities (75%); with 48% enjoying family outings, recreation, picnics and barbecues; 24% mountain biking or cycling; 16% walking or running with their dogs and 12% camping.

Family activities in the parks increased 10% from the previous year. However, horse riding, fishing and hunting, driving (4WD and trail biking) have all decreased.

The biggest reasons respondents gave for not visiting the parks were ‘lack of time’ and ‘other commitments’. The ‘weather’ was cited less as an influence for not going to a park this year – only 2% compared with 9% last year.

“We use this research to improve our parks for our visitors,” says Cr Lamason. “We can already see the benefits of having this research as we continue to improve the activities available and access to the parks.”

The full research report is available here: GWRC Parks Survey Report 2018

Birchville Dam

Birchville Dam was once a functioning water-supply for the local community until it was retired in the 1950’s. People remember the water at the Birchville Dam being much higher, which it was. The water level at this historic dam is actively managed to protect local communities and residents. 

We do regular safety inspections on all the historic dams in our region and these inspections are done to keep everyone safe.


Is the dam safe?
Yes under normal conditions, and it is expected to perform well in moderate earthquakes and floods. The dam is under an ongoing safety and surveillance programme. The water level is actively managed to protect local communities and residents, and retain its historical value. Strong earthquakes and flooding can pose risks to this dam which is why water levels are continuously monitored. There are procedures in place to manage safety risks and to close this area if the risk levels warrant it. This is a similar process to all dams across our regional parks.


What do I do if there is a major earthquake and I am at the dam?
In the case of a major earthquake you should head to higher ground. Remember if it is long, or strong, get gone
If you’re at or above the dam, stay on the track above the dam until it is safe to move. The track above the Dam heads up the hill towards Totara Park ( 3 1/2 hrs) and onto Bridge Rd carpark via Cannon Point Walkway (4 1/2 hr walk) - this is your safest route out.  


If you are on the track below to the dam - move immediately to high ground. Be aware of potential for damage to bridges, landslips and rock falls. Exit immediately via the carpark on Bridge Road - the carpark is considered safe because it is above any potential deluge zone. Do not return to the dam until the area has been inspected and cleared by GWRC. 


Should I visit the area during extreme rainfall and if local rivers are flooded?

No. Avoid visiting this area during these conditions. The track to the dam is vulnerable to flooding. Following these

type of weather events you may find tracks will be closed until areas have been checked and cleared as safe by GWRC. Follow the advice on any signage posted in this area.


We want everyone to be safe so if anything changes around the dam we will inform the public on this website page, on site or on facebook. Please follow all safety instructions posted by GWRC or as advised by our staff or park rangers.

Key Native Ecosystem Plan for Akatarawa Forest

A Key Native Ecosystem plan sets out the management activities that will be carried out to address threats to biodiversity at sites managed by GWRC as part of the Key Native Ecosystem (KNE) Programme. The KNE Programme includes sites that represent a full range of native ecosystem types with significant biodiversity values across the region. Management activities at these sites aim to protect and restore these important remnants of our natural heritage.

Key Native Ecosystem site

Akatarawa Forest includes some large areas of high biodiversity value and these areas comprise one of GWRC’s Key Native Ecosystem sites. The Key Native Ecosystem Plan for Akatarawa Forest describes the values and threats for this site, as well as the management activities GWRC is planning to carry out.

The KNE site at Akatarawa Forest includes all of the native forested areas within the Park which is located in hill country at the southern end of the Tararua Ranges north of Upper Hutt. The KNE site’s large size, diversity of forest types and wetlands are some of the features that make this site so special. It also supports a range of threatened species including Kirk’s daisy, large-leaved milk tree, red and scarlet mistletoes, New Zealand falcon, red-crowned kākāriki, torrentfish and the rarely observed lamprey.

With weeds, pest animals and the adverse effects of human activities posing ongoing threats to the area, GWRC is undertaking a long-term commitment to ensure that this Key Native Ecosystem’s values are protected and restored.

You can download the Key Native Ecosystem Plan for Akatarawa Forest and find further information about the KNE programme on our website.

 

Whakatikei Road - No ACCESS - Blocked with fallen tree

Tree down on the Pram Track this is blocking the Track and due to the weather this will not be able to be cleared until the week starting 18th May 2015

No recreational activities over the weekend 16/5/15and 17/5/15 due to water levels, slips and fallen trees.  Will start accessing the main roads and tracks as of Monday the 18th May 2015

Devils Staircase - Closed to all motorised vehicles up to Labour weekend October 2015

Due to recent maintenance on this track the surface is extremely wet and needs to settle over winter. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

All enquires 027 248 1658

Woolshed Road in Valley View forest closed until further notice to all vehicles and users due to forestry operations involving tree felling, logging , road and skid construction.

Akatarawa Forest firewood collection scheme ends

The Akatarawa Forest firewood collection scheme has been disbanded, with immediate effect. The scheme, which operated for nearly 30 years, was suspended earlier this year pending an assessment of whether it met appropriate injury prevention standards.

Its closure reflects the forestry industry’s changing approach to injury prevention, which is now based on the tighter standards covered by the Health and Safety in Employment Act and the Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Forest Operations.

The regional council must apply the law but does not have the resources to monitor scheme permit holders and cannot assess individual members of the public’s competency to use a chainsaw. Permits applied a range of health and safety conditions to permit holders but our rangers have observed 17 breaches of permit conditions since 2013, and it’s simply fortunate that no-one has been injured.

An alternative scheme was considered however, it was found the price that would have to be charged for the safe provision of firewood from a supervised location outside the forest park would be similar to normal market prices for firewood.

GWRC has written to recent users of the scheme to inform them of its closure. For more information on how we have reached our decision, please go to: http://www.gw.govt.nz/committee-meetings-calendar/detail/72