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
Over summer last year, we welcomed a record number of visitors to Kaitoke Regional Park - 22,000 campers to be exact!
We have built a new visitor shelter at the top terrace to accommodate visitors to Kaitoke. The shelter mirrors the facilities in the lower campground and includes treated water, sinks, power points, night lights and a free electric BBQ. Come along and check it out for yourselves.
Key Native Ecosystem Plans
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. It states specific objectives to maintain and improve the condition of the native ecosystem where possible.
Kaitoke Regional Park
Kaitoke Regional Park includes some areas of high biodiversity values and is one of GWRC’s Key Native Ecosystem sites. The Kaitoke Regional Park Key Native Ecosystem plan describes the values and threats for this site, as well as the management activities GWRC is planning to carry out.
The Key Native Ecosystem site at Kaitoke Regional Park comprises all of the native forested areas within the Park. This includes the main large area of mature forest and areas of remnant and regenerating forest at the Te Marua end of the Park. The large areas of mature podocarp, broadleaved and beech forest, as well as a rare remnant of lowland mataī-tōtara forest are what make this site so special. The forest supports a number of threatened plant and animal species including the rare Kirk’s daisy, red mistletoe, red-crowned parakeet and North Island kākā. 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 the Key Native Ecosystem’s values are protected and restored.
You can find the Key Native Ecosystem plan for Kaitoke Regional Park and further information about the Key Native Ecosystem programme in the links below:
The long hot summer of 2015 was a boomer for Wellington’s campers, bringing record numbers flocking to Kaitoke for a slice of sun in this “jewel” of a regional park. This is not a one-off; over the last three years, the number of campers at Kaitoke have increased from about 9 000 in the summer of 2012/13 to over 15 000 last summer. That’s a lot of $6 a night campers! We regularly saw 100 people during the week and up to 400 people at weekends during January at Kaitoke. And the “Mondayised” Waitangi Day saw another mini-peak early in February.
Why this huge rate of growth? Part of it started with the squeeze on incomes several years ago and a lot of people got hooked on the “low cost holiday close to home” idea. You can now get good quality camping gear from a range of suppliers and it’s a lot more affordable.
The regional parks offer beautiful, well managed and protected natural surroundings. Kaitoke is an award winning park - the way we manage our campsites means people are sure it’s safe and fun for families. Visitors love the walks, bike rides and picnics, Rivendell, the swimming holes, an evening chatting round the BBQ or the campfire. There are lots of reasons why we think more and more people are choosing a camping holiday in the parks.
But camping in our parks, especially at Kaitoke, is putting pressure on facilities and staff time. If we don’t do something about it, we think some customers will start to get disillusioned. At Kaitoke the Park Rangers spent hours over the summer collecting fees, disposing of rubbish and calming the queues of people waiting their turn at the loos. This is time they are not spending with other visitors, or the various tasks that keep the campground and the park running smoothly. A wet spring seemed to put the grass growth on steroids! It’s become an interesting example of the art and science in implementing our management plan, and how this needs to evolve in response to changes in patronage and customer expectations.
So what are our next steps? We’re making a limited and measured investment that we think will address some issues while preserving the character of Kaitoke that visitors value so much.
The campsite already has free BBQs and rubbish collection and we run events between January and March as part of the Great Outdoors Summer Events programme. From next summer we’ll extend our summer ranger term a few weeks so that more time will be available to manage the campsite. We’ll get another EFTPOS machine so it will be easier to collect fees. And we’ll fix a toilet blocking problem and provide more portaloos at peak times. We’re also going to ask campers to sort their rubbish and use a new recycling depot.
No doubt some proof will be in the pudding; However, we’re spending public money and it’s important to focus on the right things to satisfy our customers and keep them coming back. We think this answers the main questions – but maybe you have some thoughts too about what else will “do a bit more to make a big difference”? What do you think are the magic ingredients that make a great camping holiday at Kaitoke Regional Park?
Send your ideas to Steve the Kaitoke Park Ranger
Rivendell archway launch event and official opening 10.30am Saturday 7 March.
Come and join in the celebration of the completion of this fantastic structure nestled in to the landscape. Meet the people who created it and marvel at its magnificence. To add to the experience why not come dressed in LOTR costume.
There will be Lord of the Rings themed characters roaming the area, Rivendell information panels, prizes for best dressed and a guided walk.
Rivendell is the name given to a special place in Kaitoke Regional Park that used to house Water Supply engineers. Part of it was transformed in 1999 into the elvan retreat in “The Fellowship of the Ring”, first of the three ‘Lord of the Rings’ films
Fans continue to visit this magical location keeping the fantasy aliveThe archway was built by fans to replace the original removed when filming was completed. The archway is dedicated to all fans of the three Lord of the Rings films
Although similar in style to the one seen in the film, it is about half the size. Ted Guise of Wellington Movie Tours partnered with Greater Wellington Regional Council to build it as a reminder of the movie set removed when filming of “The Fellowship of the Ring” had finished. While the elves did leave, from time to time they still return. Special thanks to the craftsmen: Ted, Evan, Chris, Kimberley, Sanit, Jade, Bridget and Matthew.
The rat population in the Hutt Water Collection Area has taken a battering following late September’s 1080 drop according to a recent survey undertaken by GWRC as part of the Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Project Kaka, an intensive 10-year pest control and monitoring programme in and around the Tararua Forest Park.
Monitoring teams run by Environmental Science staff found that rat tracking rates were low following the application of 1080, suggesting it was having a big and positive impact on pest control. The average rate for the catchment was 11% (±9%), but tracking rates differed widely between the three monitoring areas. Rates in the Western Hutt area were 0%, with 4% tracking on Maymorn Ridge and 28% tracking in the Eastern Hutt. Normal tracking rates are anywhere between 40% and 100%.
Most of the tunnels in which rats were detected were in the Eastern Hutt area, but it is unlikely they reflect survival rates. It seems more likely that the majority of these rats have migrated to the catchment in the six weeks since the aerial 1080 operation was carried out.
“We saw a very similar pattern following the 2009 aerial 1080 operation,” says GWRC Environmental Scientist Nikki McArthur, “with rat tracking rates rising relatively quickly in the Eastern Hutt in the first few months following the operation but remaining very low in the Western Hutt and Maymorn Ridge over the following 18 months or so.” Tracking rates have risen more rapidly in the Eastern Hutt following the latest operation, but this is likely because rat populations in surrounding forests are extremely high this year following the nation-wide mast seeding of native beech trees.
GWRC’s monitoring comes in the context of the DOC’s Project Kaka. It enables comparisons to be made of the efficacy of three 1080-based pest control approaches: three-yearly application (DOC); five/six-yearly application (GWRC); and no application.
GWRC’s next Project Kaka rodent monitor will be in February 2015, but in the meantime staff will be carrying out a bird monitor in November and December 2014 and a mustelid/possum monitor in January 2015.
For more information on Project kaka, go to:
A tribute to 25 year GWRC chair “gentleman” Stuart Macaskill will grace the State highway 2 lookout over the Macaskill Lakes in time for this summer, memorialising a man who made an outstanding contribution to the Wellington region.
Entering local government in 1971 as the highest polling councillor for Upper Hutt City Council where he became deputy mayor, Mr Macaskill was elected to the newly-formed Wellington Regional Council in 1980, becoming its chairman in 1986 and serving in the position until his retirement in 2001.
During that time he applied his adroit political skills towards obtaining the consensus to achieve the resources required for building many of the facilities and services the region enjoys today. These include the award-winning bulk water supply and storage lakes named after him, flood plain management and protection and chairing the Wellington Lifelines Group which sought earthquake strengthening of key infrastructure. He also convinced councillors to pledge $25 million of ratepayers’ funding towards the development of the Westpac stadium. He died in December 2012.
The memorial will be located on the lawn next to the curving path to the Macaskill Lakes Lookout. It will take the form of an attractive waist high boulder-filled wall encased in steel mesh (known as a gabion structure) and complement the boulder and plaque memorial to Keith Spry, MBE, who made a significant contribution to promoting and protecting the region’s parks and natural resources.
The Stuart Macaskill monument will be open to the public from late November.
It’s official, Kaitoke Regional Park is a real winner. While recent visitors will already know that, judges in two awards have given the park gongs for excellence. Not only has it been recognised as the Outstanding Park of the Year 2013, it’s also been awarded a prestigious international Green Flag Award. Our thanks go to all those hard working volunteers and GWRC staff who’ve put the park at the top of the list.
The Green Flag Award acknowledges excellence in the management of parks against key criteria relating to public usage and benefits. Qualified judges from Australia and New Zealand assess each park on their standards of safety, welcoming facilities, management of the environment and historical features, as well as recognising the role of parks as being great places to play and recreate. Parks were also judged on their sustainability practices and overall standard of management.
Parks Forum CEO, David Clarke, said “Winning agencies can confidently promote their parks and reserves as being the highest quality green spaces that provide a great experience for visitors. Local users, national and international tourists alike can be sure that they will be visiting an exceptional park,”
Here’s what the judges said about Kaitoke:
Located just north of Upper Hutt off SH2, Kaitoke Regional Park protects a large expanse of pristine lowland forest. This easily accessible park is managed for future Wellington water supply, biodiversity and offers extensive passive recreational opportunities within a natural setting. With over 200,000 visits per annum the park is a popular area for camping, walking and hiking, swimming and visiting the Lord of the Rings film site of Rivendell.
The park caters to families with wide open river terraces, landscaped grassy areas for picnicking, gas BBQs for public use and riverside camping opportunities. Interpretation and the development of the Rivendell site has led to Kaitoke becoming one of the most popular Lord of the Rings sites in the lower North Island. Low key commercial activity includes around 3,000 guided visitors per annum, many international, visiting the Rivendell site.
Kaitoke also offers excellent bush walking options such as Norbett’s Creek and the Ridge Track. The park’s location at the confluence of the Hutt and Pakuratahi Rivers provides swimming, fishing and nationally significant white water paddling experiences in the Hutt Gorge.
Kaitoke provides a safe and secure environment with a resident seven day a week ranger service and well maintained facilities. There is a close connection to the local community with Plateau School, the Wellington Botanical Society and Upper Hutt Forest and Bird all engaged in projects within the park.
A list of all the Australasian Green Flag Award 2013-14 Winners can be found here.
26 November 2013
Kaitoke Regional Park wins national award
Kaitoke Regional Park, run by Greater Wellington Regional Council, has been recognised with the Outstanding Park Award at the 2013 New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) Awards in Rotorua.
The judges said Kaitoke Regional Park was a well-established park, showcasing outstanding native bush and river ecosystem that is easily accessible to a wide range of people.
Amongst the achievements noted in the Park’s nomination, 200,000 visitors a year enjoy a safe and secure environment, with a resident ranger service and well-maintained facilities.
The nomination also noted the Park has benefited from the skill and innovation of generations of engineers, architects and designers where visitors can camp, walk, swim and visit Rivendell, the Lord of the Rings film site.
NZRA CEO, Andrew Leslie, congratulated all of the 2013 NZRA Awards winners for their dedication and passion.
“The contribution the award winners make highlight the extraordinary quality of our recreation industry. We celebrate their achievements tonight, but every day they are making a difference in their community.”
No liquor is to be consumed in the park on New Year's Eve (31 December).
Entry will be refused to anyone bringing alcohol into the park and anyone caught consuming liquor will be required to leave. The gates will close at 5pm and no entry will be permitted after this time. This ban is to ensure the safety of park campers and rangers on New Year's Eve.
Three beautifully carved posts will now guide visitors to the beech glade in Kaitoke Regional Park where scents from The Lord of the Ringstrilogy were filmed. More...