Walkers are being asked to take extreme care in Belmont Regional Park following the 14 May floods. The Korokoro Dam track, in particular, suffered severe damage and should not be attempted. The public are advised to explore other parts of the park.
“Since our early inspection we’ve found a huge amount of damage on the track. Three bridges are down, others are loaded with debris. Sections of the track have been washed away and others severely compromised and in a dangerous state,” says Principal Ranger (western) Wayne Boness.
“Our concern is that, come the next downpour, the situation could get worse and the track could further deteriorate. Sections that are unstable now could subside or fall away, slides could occur, people could end up in the stream. It’s potentially very dangerous out there.”
Mr Boness says that walkers should avoid the track and respect the no entry signs that have been posted. “If people are tempted to go in they’ll find themselves deep in the streams because the bridges are out and scrambling up unstable slopes – a recipe for injury caused by thoughtless behaviour.”
The scale of the work to be done to make the track safe and usable is currently being determined following inspections of the track, but with winter upon us it is likely to take months to make repairs.
All closed areas of the park have been signposted and the public has been asked to report any damage by calling 526-4133.
The current status of the tracks is the following:
• Cornish Street to Korokoro Dam – closed
• Stream walk at Stratton Street – closed
• Takapu Road to Duck Creek – open but take extreme care due to washouts
• Cannons Creek area – open, but take extreme care
• Oakleigh Street – open, but take extreme care
For more information: GWRC media ‘phone on 021 914-266
Rules designed to protect the public from risks posed by unmanned aerial vehicles (popularly known as drones) have been introduced in Greater Wellington Regional Council’s regional parks.
“The popularity of drones has exploded in the last 18 months and regular media reports of the damage and disruption they can cause when not flown properly must be taken seriously,” says Manager, Parks, Amanda Cox.
“However, we want to strike a balance between allowing their use and keeping people safe. So we’ve developed rules that allow recreational drone flying in many areas of our parks. We’ll keep the new rules under review and adjust them if necessary.”
Drone flyers must comply with two sets of rules, those introduced on 1 August by the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority, which can be found at the CAA website and those introduced by GWRC which regulate drone use in our regional parks. These can be found here.
“If you want to fly drones in our regional parks you should become familiar with our rules,” says Amanda Cox. ”They identify where you can’t fly drones, such as designated picnic and camping areas, wetlands and roosting sites parts of battle Hill during lambing, and other areas best avoided.
“But they also suggest areas that are suitable for flying, of which there are many. However, conditions can change, such as community plantings and visiting parties that regularly take place so it’s best to check with the park ranger first.”
It is also important to note that some areas of Belmont, Whitireia and Queen Elizabeth parks that are within four kilometres of airfields and so fall within the CAA’s regulations. To fly drones in these areas you need to meet CAA conditions so you should check them before allowing your drone to become airborne.
A planned approach to maintaining the hundreds of kilometres of tracks in GWRC’s parks network protects their environments and enhances the user experience. Without it, tracks would degrade, people would be deterred from using them and access to the great outdoors would be limited.
The broad framework for our regional track network is provided by the Parks Network Plan 2010, which sets the context for getting on with building and maintaining the type of network the community has shown it wants.
During consultation the public asked for our network to be maintained so that a wide range people of varying fitness levels, ages and physical abilities could use them. With this in mind we are improving some tracks in more accessible areas closer to park entrances, and balancing this by maintaining more remote areas to a “rugged” state.
Our track maintenance and development is guided by well-tested national standards which were developed in NZ for NZ conditions following wide consultation with industry experts and national user groups. They apply to Department of Conservation and local authority track networks and the results are becoming increasingly familiar to Kiwi walkers and trampers.
That doesn’t mean track uniformity, as no two tracks are identical, and nor does it reduce the challenge of the bush. But it does mean a range of experiences that reflect the different kinds of recreation experience walkers and trampers want. As a result the network provides several types of track – from easy strolls to tough tramps – often within the same park.
To provide this service we have maintenance plans for tracks and associated infrastructure across the regional parks network. Through these plans we line up resources to ensure that the right maintenance occurs at the right time to keep these assets from degrading or replace them before they fail or become obsolete. . The end result will be that there will be places in the regional parks for all and a better quality of experience for the thousands of people who visit each year.
For walking tracks, re-shaping (done every 5-10 years) and surface metalling provide consistent, comfortable and durable surfaces for walkers and ensure tracks need less maintenance over time. Steps may need to be installed to prevent erosion, often caused by people taking alternative routes down steep slopes or cutting corners through the bush.
Water is the enemy of tracks so their surfaces and drainage are regularly maintained to minimise wear created by erosion in deep ruts or washouts. We clear culverts and water tables to ensure water can escape from tracks, and vegetation needs to be cut back to ensure that tracks dry out and remain open and safe.
Weed control is important to maintaining the integrity of the environment. Regular cut backs of vegetation and weeds along the edges of tracks helps to prevent invasion while maintaining the width of the walking surface and allowing sun onto tracks. Great care is taken in this process to identify and protect important plant species, such as the orchids in East Harbour Regional Park.
The occasional presence of work crews using machinery such as scrub bars, loppers, chainsaws, power barrows, small diggers or plate compactors may seem at odds with the natural environment of our regional parks. But this machinery means we can get the work done efficiently and ensures that the tracks remain safe and accessible for residents and visitors to the region.
In some cases and on some tracks you won’t notice any difference to the current experience despite ongoing maintenance. For higher use front country areas you may see more being done through programmed cycles of renewal work to ensure we meet quality standards. These areas are precious natural and cultural treasures. We’re providing facilities that are fit for purpose and ensure the facilities are up to handling the pressures of use. The work involved isn’t that attractive – it’s hard graft and we’re in it for the long-haul.
Check out all our amazing new staff, from Park Rangers to admin staff. We are really excited to have every single one of them (even those who have been with us before) join our wonderful parks team. Welcome!!!
Matenga Love - Joel’s replacement starts next Monday. He goes by the name ‘Porky’, and comes to us from Kiwirail - where he led one of their maintenance crews. The position is as Maintenance Ranger in Jeremy Collyns’ Eastern Landscape crew.
Welcome aboard Porky!
Steven Fargher - We’ve got a new team member working alongside Gareth in a Construction Ranger role.
Steven is a Licenced Builder from Upper Hutt and has over 12 yrs experience in the construction industry – covering residential, commercial and landscaping.
Zoe Ogilvie started in the GWRC parks team in mid September 2014 as the Community Events and Marketing Assistant. Zoe has come from Massey University Student Services Dept as Assistant Community Manager. She has a background in marketing and communications and is passionate about people and places. Welcome her aboard when you see her.
Ricky Clarkson recently returned to a role in the Eastern Landscape Crew until he starts his new role as Summer Ranger at Kaitoke Regional Park. Ricky is doing the Rangers training course at NMIT in Nelson, so brings a good understanding of the parks network and ranger responsibilities with him to the role. Ricky has worked with NZ Immigration Service and NZ Customs in the past. He has a great attitude and a friendly smile. He will be out and about on various events over summer so say gidday and congrats.
Dion Ngatoro has been with GWRC for six years as a member of our Eastern Landscape Maintenance Team. He knows our parks extremely well, and has “hands on” experience of what’s needed to maintain our infrastructure and make the parks so valued by the community. He’s also very experienced in forest and tree management, which will come in very handy in his new role as Park Ranger Wainuiomata/Orongorongo.
Gareth Cooper has worked for GWRC for 16 years as a Park Ranger, and more recently he has served as a Biosecurity Officer (Pest Animals). His new role as Supervisor Ranger Construction signals a return for Gareth to his original carpentry/joiner trade. Gareth started out as a joiner in Wales, and with his extensive Parks experience is very much looking forward to combining these two great areas of skill and interest in his job.
Wendy Flitcroft has been appointed as the new Parks Receptionist/ Administrator, based at the Upper Hutt depot. Wendy comes from a strong customer service background where she has just recently been managing a children’s clothing store. Prior to this she was self-employed as a Real Estate Agent where she spent a lot of time helping to manage a busy reception area as well as selling property. While her three children were small, Wendy was a dental hygiene assistant and a supermarket merchandiser.
Gary Wheaton has been appointed to the position of Western Mobile Ranger for the Parks Department. The Western Mobile Ranger provides the Park Ranger service for Whitireia Park, and spends the other two days per week at Queen Elizabeth Park. Gary has been with GWRC for a little over two years, starting with the Western Landscape Maintenance crew, working as the QEP Summer Ranger and more recently a period as acting Mobile Ranger. Gary is looking forward to the challenges this position will bring and comes on board at an exciting time with the Whitireia Park management plan review process to kick off this year.
Ben Smith has started work with the Western Maintenance crew. Ben comes to us from Zealandia where he has worked in various roles including educational and tour guiding and weed control. Ben has a Trainee Ranger Diploma from the Southern Institute of Technology and has worked in various biodiversity and biosecurity roles across some pretty remote parts of the country - Fiordland, Chatham Islands, Rakiura/Stewart Island, Whenua Hou/Codfish Island and Orokanui as well as a stint in South African Game reserves. Ben is quite skilled also in sculpture and jewellery making.
Hayden Airey has also joined the western Maintenance crew. Hayden just finished working with Whakatane District Council as a Parks Officer. He has previously worked for DOC in Hauraki Area (Coromandel) and Rakiura/Stewart Island in Visitor/Historic Assets and Carpentry Ranger roles. Hayden has a national cert in Joinery and his experience doing 10-day backcountry track vegetation cutback trips will be very useful for the Maintenance crew.
Keeping you up to date with news and information from Wellington's regional parks.