During the last month the Fred Hollows volunteers have removed the logs for firewood and in the process cleared a big area in the reserve.
Two medium sized logs were taken up to the Ngati Rehia carving school and can be used by students to practice carving Pou. Its not good wood but it would do for practice/
We have put a fence round the Peacock gardens reserve car park to stop people wandering into the neighbours garden and it all looks quite tidy.
The rain has finally arrived in sufficient quantities to fill the streams and we hope to have a team clearing the site and working out a planting schedule this friday.
The whole track is looking very good and loads of people are enjoying the wonderful walks in the woodlands.
Several of the eucalyptus trees in the reserve were dead and a potential danger to walkers and so FNDC have arranged to have them felled. The contractor, Roy, cleared the site very well and left some big trunks that make good seats for weary walkers to stop and contemplate the river.
The remaining logs will be taken by the Fred Hollows Foundation volunteers for firewood. It was great to see them on television and to hear that they have raised around $140,000 so far to restore sight to people in the Pacific Islands.
We completed the track count and the Southside track reached 146 in a week and the Wairoa had a massive 1084. A very satisfying number for tracks that were impossible to access two years ago and all done with volunteers.
The Peacock gardens reserve had a huge patch of Morning Glory which had to be cleared to make room for a Kerikeri High School project. Much thanks to Will Bingham and Ian McDermind for putting in a hard days work to get it cleared. Before and after photos.
The grant from FNDC was to compete the network of track and promote them as a tourist attraction for Kerikeri and as a form of exercise for the locals. To this end we have produced a leaflet showing the beauty of the waterfalls and a detailed map to guide people round the network. The leaflet is in the Information Centre at Whangarei, Paihia and Kerikeri as well as motels and the library.
Real estate agents recognised the value of the tracks to potential house buyers and have included it in their big flyer.
The promotional side has been a success and just in time for the Christmas holiday period. We hope to increase promotion for the Autumn and Spring shoulder holiday periods in the future.
Finding the start of a track is not always easy so we have put some signs in strategic places to point people in the right direction.
Many people have to drive to the start of the walk and then they need to park the car. We have made and entrance to the Peacock Gardens Reserve and we are hoping that the FNDC will put down a few loads of metal to improve the surface. This will keep cars of the very small road and reduce inconvenience to the residents.
We know that more and more people are enjoying walking the tracks so have put the track counter in place to check the numbers. Currently it is running at between ten and twenty a day which is similar to the Wairoa when it was first opened.
There have always been small holes in the track and Marty at DOC has advised us that they are Kiwi worm feeding holes. As a result we will have to make a dog policy whereby people can exercise their dogs but protect the ground nesting birds. There are possums in both reserves so we may have to do a bit of trapping.
If you manage to read to the end of the post. Merry Christmas and thank you for your support, it's very much appreciated.. Bob.
As the land dries out we have been able to clean up the ruts made by the digger so that when the grass grows it will be smooth underfoot. We have used a couple of the piles of the felled taiwan cherry trees to mark the path edges and done quite a bit of spraying to get rid of the ginger other weeds.
The last job was to widen the car park by a few metres so that cars can turn round more easily.
When the stream dries out a bit more we can put in a couple of small dams to make shallow pools.
Its starting to look like a proper park.
As part of our consent procedure with FNDC, various groups attended a Health and Safety briefing at Kaikohe. As approved groups working on FNDC land we have the same responsibility to our volunteers as council employees and need to keep them safe from harm. We are a pretty risk averse group anyway but need to be disciplined over how we go about it.
We have also taken advantage of the dry period to add a second dam to the stream but we now need some rain to fill it.
The plan is to hold some water back to plant reeds and sedges and have a school use the area for educational purposes.
After months of struggling across a muddy ditch we have put in a small bridge for walkers on the track.
It might be small but its very strong, with 200 mm piles and beams and a 50 mm deck.
Meanwhile the Parks team have planted another section section of the stream which is beginning to dry up.
Today was the first day that the Parks Team had worked on the Peacock gardens reserve and we achieved more than I thought we would.
One job was to reroute the track, where we had inadvertently gone across private land, and under Graeme's leadership that was accomplished.
The other group got on with smoothing the banks where the digger had dumped and rutted the land when we dug out the steam.
When the ground was reasonably smooth we planted some trees. The Pukatea went in to the really wet area and cabbage trees on the banks. About thirty trees altogether and a very productive morning.
Our organisation has morphed into two teams with the Landscapers doing the heavy work like clearing land and putting up fences and the Parks team sorting out the mess and planting the trees in a pattern that will be attractive when they mature in twenty years time.
The latest addition was to fence the piece of mown land that looked like a private garden and plant it so that walkers feel confident with going over it. With it fenced, we then planted six beautiful big trees and surrounded them with flax and cabbage trees.
The long, upstream strip was thick with taiwan cherry and wild ginger and this has now been cleared and planted. It still need some work but there are a lot of big trees in the ground and it looks as though someone care for it.
There are two streams in this reserve and it is rumored that they were once Maori gardens, which is credible, as the soil is good and there are clumps of Taro on the stream edge. We are trying to recruit some schools to adopt the streams as a project and replant them with wetland plants and also the typical plants that Maori would have had for basic food and medicinal herbs.
We have had a few good sessions on the Peacock Gardens reserve where we have cleared and cleaned up the strip that was overgrown with Taiwan cherry and ginger. It might still look like a battlefield from the 1st World War but it is definitely taking shape and ready for further planting.
On another day we extended the area that is intended for the car park and it would take about ten cars, which is plenty. A tree stump in the entrance caused a bit of trouble but Graeme and Carol supplied a strop and Wills trusty antique Land Cruiser pulled it out easily. We were hoping that FNDC would deliver some metal to make the surface but this needs a bit more time to fit into the budget.
The Parks team were ready to do the planting but rained off by a short and fierce rainstorm and will have another go next week.
The good news is that the Far North District Council have completed their consent application procedure, I have signed our copy on behalf of the Kerikeri Walkways Group and we are waiting for the Councils signature.
Living Waters was first and we were second but in the end it is a good document, easy to understand and comply with. as long as you understand the risks to volunteers and do your best to keep them safe.
As many of us as possible will need to attend a Health and Safety session in the near future.
All the staff at FNDC have been extremely helpful and encouraging to make this happen.
The bad news is that DOC have refused again our application despite all the hard work that Ben and Ruben of Vision Consulting Engineers have put in. The reasons for the refusal are these.
At this time the Department of Conservation will not support the development of the Booth’s Wharepuke Farm Track. Reasons for this being;
On the positive side, it is public land and is listed on the Land Information NZ map, the track is walkable and a large number of people are using it and the track is part of DOC's plans for the Kororipo Heritage area.
Its just that we can't improve the surface, plant trees to improve diversity or build a small footbridge.