New signs for East Harbour Regional Park’s newest track - the Kāeaea Track offer a fascinating insight into how the region used to look.
Photos and information on the signs half-way up the new track and at the summit show central Eastbourne buildings surrounded by sand dunes and a Māori fishing village in Pencarrow. The track took two seasons to build and it takes between 25 and 45 minutes to walk up depending on your ability. The track is named after the native New Zealand falcon, the Kāeaea, which is commonly seen in the area.
Greater Wellington Regional Council worked with the Eastbourne Community Board and the Eastbourne Historical Society to create the signage and we hope locals and visitors alike will enjoy this new track edition to this park.
Looking over the harbour from windswept magnificence of Baring Head is one of Wellington’s great experiences. Its very remoteness makes it special, it’s a place where the ghosts of lighthouse keepers’ past can be conjured in the little community that clings to its cliffs.
The story of this small settlement at the southern end of East Harbour Regional Park needs to be told, and that’s the purpose behind a project team dedicated to restoring the cottages, grounds and gardens of the lighthouse keepers’ compound and opening them to public use.
Led by the Friends of Baring Head and supported by Greater Wellington, the project team is running a fundraising programme to raise the money to repair and restore the area and reimagine its past, bit by bit. The outcome will be a fabulous focal point for the southern end of the park, an opportunity to relive the past and a place for people to stay overnight in the cottages and enjoy the full experience the rugged environment offers.
Over time, we’ll be calling for help from the community in the form of know-how, labour and funds. And just as Rome wasn’t built in a day the same applies to the lighthouse compound. We expect it will take several years to accomplish, so please look out for calls for help along the way.
Riders looking for new experience can now share in the use of the Puriri Track which links the Wainuiomata Hill pedestrian bridge with Wainuiomata Mountain Bike Park https://www.facebook.com/wainuiomatatrailproject/
We have been able to open the Puriri track, which is on the Wainuiomata Hill side of the park, for mountain bikes because of the recently installed bridge. This has provided a double benefit - allowing both pedestrian access across the busy Wainuiomata Hill Road and a good loop ride to and from the mountain bike park.
The experience takes you from the top fo the mountain bike park over the bridge from where you bike through some lovely beech forest as you make your way along the Main Ridge track. You can then turn off down the Puriri track, emerging at the bottom of Wainuiomata Hill before making your way along the grass, over the crossing near the round-about and back to the mountain bike park.
But a word of caution, do not underestimate the Purir track, it is for downhill biking only and has been classed for advance riders, as is the Rata Ridge track that goes all the way to Stanley Street. Also note that respect is required when using the track because it is for shared use so follow the signs and be careful out there. We will review how it is going in a year from now. It is important therefore to get your views on the track, so why not send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A milestone has been reached in the process to redevelop and restore the lighthouse cottages and their precinct at Baring Head with initial concept plans for the lighthouse cottages, power house and gardens completed.
Wellington architects Lianne Cox and Celia Goldsmith from Studio Pacific Architecture presented the plans to the Friends of Baring Head at their September AGM and received a very positive response.
The plans for the two cottages depict a cautionary approach, retaining heritage character, material and features, whilst improving functionality of the cottages to allow for re-use as booked accommodation. One cottage will be restored with minimal structural changes and the other modified for accessibility with changes to rear access and the bathroom.
The plans for the large Power House building show two rooms dedicated to interpretation of natural and cultural heritage stories and for use by day visitors seeking shelter - and a break from the wind.
The landscape plans detail restoration plantings to reinstate missing parts of the perimeter shelter belt, works to reveal the overgrown entry driveway and restore the centre rock garden, and removal of weed species which may be invasive to the surrounding areas of East Harbour Regional Park. The plans outline works which can be implemented as resources permit over the short, medium and longer term.
Estimated scopes of works and costs for implementing the plans are now being prepared which will enable the Friends and GW to have a clear idea of resources required for the overall restoration project. Options for ongoing operations will also be investigated and determined by GW and the Friends of Baring Head. Once this work is completed, the Friends can then start raising the money and mobilising the local community and business sector support needed to get the work done, with planning and management support from GW officers.
You can view the concept plans for the Baring Head Lighthouse precinct at http://www.gw.govt.nz/Park-news-3/ .
Ecological restoration work being carried out by Mainland Island Restoration Operation (MIRO) and GWRC have produced some great success stories in recent months.
One indicator that ecosystems are thriving and biodiversity is healthy is the presence of birds. A few examples of the wins being observed in East Harbour Regional Park have been shared for us to enjoy.
Monitoring of North Island Robin nesting success in the northern forest has been carried out since the start of spring by the volunteer community group MIRO. Three nests from one pair have been monitored. The first failed due to predation probably by a rat; the second nest fledged one bird; and the third three. This represents a 66% nest success rate, with three out of the four juveniles subsequently surviving to “independence”. This level of breeding success is similar to that achieved on predator-free offshore islands and predator-proof fenced mainland islands, so this is an excellent result for this unfenced, mainland site.
Also in the Northern Forest a pair of yellow-crowned kakariki have been observed and photographed near the Butterfly Creek picnic area by local birder Duncan Watson. This is possibly the first verified record of this species in East Harbour for 25-30 years. Volunteers are now watching closely to see if these birds are residents or just passing through.
GWRC staff have also been keeping an eye on our precious Banded Dotterel population at Baring Head and have reported that five chicks have fledged at this site over summer, which is the highest number of chicks produced in the last four years. The predator trapping, signage and temporary fencing (which has now been removed) put in place by The Friends of Baring Head and GWRC at the beginning of the nesting season seems to be having a positive effect on reducing predator impacts and accidental human disturbance.
There is a long road ahead for all Key Native Ecosytem sites but this is a very positive start great work by a whole bunch of people working together for a positive outcome.
East Harbour Regional Park includes some areas with high biodiversity values and these are managed under GWRC’s Key Native Ecosystem programme. This programme recognises the significance of a range of different sites around the region and aims to protect and restore them as functioning ecosystems and important remnants of our natural heritage. A Key Native Ecosystem plan sets out the management activities that will be carried out to address threats to the biodiversity values at a site. It states specific goals to maintain and improve a site’s ecological condition where possible.
There are three Key Native Ecosystem sites at East Harbour Regional Park. They are:
The many threatened or at risk ecosystem types and threatened native plant and animal species present at these sites are what makes them so special. Ecological weeds, pest animals and the adverse effects of human activities are posing significant and ongoing threats to the area. To address these, GWRC and its site management partners are undertaking a long-term commitment to ensure that these Key Native Ecosystem sites’ values are protected and restored.
The three Key Native Ecosystem plans for sites within East Harbour Regional Park are now available on our website. You can download them here: