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Park news

Updated 9 October 2018 9:38am

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

Quackers about the Hutt River 

Stand by for the inaugural Hutt River Festival on 30 November for an afternoon of family fun … and a fleet of floating plastic ducks.

After five successful years on the water the Great NZ Englefield Hutt River Duck Race is spreading its wings into a fully-fledged festival featuring a range of great activities. As well as the race you’ll find tons of new activities on the bill. There will be the duck race, around 100 stalls selling New Zealand crafts, a sound stage for performing artists, dramatic demonstrations by our emergency services and a children’s activity area. For the energetic there’s also a 5 or 10 kilometre fun run/walk sponsored by Capital Multi Sports.

Organised by Mike Raynes and Paul Mexted in association with the Hutt City Rotary Club, the festival is thinking big. It aims to expand from the regular 3,000-4,000 people who normally attend the duck race, hoping to attract closer to 10,000 people to the water’s edge.

“We’ve ordered 10,000 little yellow ducks for the public and a further 1000 for business sponsorship, and we’re hoping to raise around $40,000 for charity from the event,” says Mike.

Proceeds from the sale of craft stall rights will go to Rotary which, in turn, will use the funds for charitable activity in Hutt City.

“We’ve decided to expand the duck race into a festival because it became obvious that the crowd it attracted was looking for more. They would commit to turning up between 11 and 1 in the afternoon ready to have fun then run out of things to do. So we thought ‘hey, we’ve got the crowd here, let’s give them something to do.’”

GWRC river ranger Grant Timlin says the festival is a great idea which will attract new people to the Hutt River Trail and show them what they’ve been missing. “It’s a lovely area in the middle of town where you can get a bit of peace and quiet, take a walk and enjoy the surroundings,” he says.

The festival will take place on the Hutt River banks below the Ewen Bridge on 30 November, with a rain day contingency for 7 December. The duck race will take place between the Melling Bridge and Ewen Bridge.