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
Wellington Riding for Disabled (RDA) has signed a short term licence to graze their horses and run therapeutic riding activities at Battle Hill Farm Forest Park. Soon there will be riders and their helpers out enjoying the peaceful farm trails and volunteers busy with support operations. They will be using some of the homestead offices for administration and will build a temporary riding arena in the paddock to the south of the homestead.
In the longer term RDA hope to build a covered riding arena which will also be available for others to use. The details are still being developed which will be followed by extensive community input and feedback. Read more about RDA's move to Battle Hill.
If you would like to volunteer with RDA, visit their website.
Battle Hill Forest Park is prone to high levels of pollen. We recommend visitors who have a pollen allergy to carry appropriate medication.
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.
The Battle Hill Bush KNE site is approximately 5km north of Pāuatahanui and 13km south of Paekākāriki. Most of the KNE site lies within Battle Hill Farm Forest Park, encompassing what is known as the bush reserve, while a third of the site lies on adjacent privately owned land. The KNE site includes remnants of semi-coastal kohekohe forest that is uncommon in the region and a section of a tributary to the Horokiri Stream.
The KNE site is home to regionally threatened species including two species of maidenhair fern, gully tree fern, perching kōhūhū, greenhood orchid, and four mosses. A wide range of native forest bird species are also present, including New Zealand falcon, red-crowned parakeet, bellbird, whitehead and pied tomtit.
The Horokiri Stream provides habitat for several fish species, including five nationally threatened species: giant kōkopu, kōaro, lamprey, redfin bully and longfin eel.
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 site’s values are protected and restored.
You can download the Key Native Ecosystem plan for Battle Hill Bush and find further information about the Key Native Ecosystem programme on our website.
Most of our trails follow the hills, but tracking down Kiwi icon poet Sam Hunt took our Park Ranger Joby Mills on a trek over a more literary landscape…
It started with a country villa and an enticing rumour. The villa is part of our Battle Hill Farm Forest Park settlement, which provides accommodation for Joby and family. The rumour? A whisper from one of the other Parks staff that Sam had possibly lived in the self-same cottage in which Joby was now living. And serendipity being what it is, Joby learned this at the same time he also heard Sam declaiming on Radio Active.
His curiosity piqued, Joby used the web to contact Sam’s agent who put Joby in contact with Sam and an email conversation ensued in which Sam confirmed not only that he had lived in the same villa but that he’d “never really left the place.”
So it turns out that Sam lived in the 1910 box villa across the creek from the farmhouse for three years between 1975-78. It was a lovely spot and a creative haven for Sam, and he says he had “many wonderful memories of Battle Hill - written numerous poems around that place/time.”
It’s hardly surprising given the setting, a green bowl where a sparkling creek runs surrounded by high hills bounded by bush and forest. His titles from the time, such as Ana Gathering Cones on Battle Hill (from Drunkard’s Garden), anchor him in the valley and it was where his son Tom was born as recounted in Birth of a Son (also from Drunkard’s Garden). Here’s what Sam wrote about the place in Up Battle Hill -
Trees move because the wind
moves them. They rock asleep.
The wind does not let up.
This moment has no end.
Light on the river moves
as if to move away.
Trees, wind, light, river, stay.
As you do too, far loves.
The wind still moves the trees but it does sometimes let up. The valley is just as beautiful as it always was. So why not take time to find out what Sam found so arresting and enchanting about this special place, Battle Hill Farm Forest Park?