Lakefront boardwalk gets underway

The lakefront area from Dinosaur Park to the marina is the nesting area of the endangered grebe.

A red digger was spotted down at the lakefront yesterday, following last week when Geosolve was spotted analysing the area with lots of machinery, testing a possible route across the shoreline. 

Jack Barlow from Queenstown Lakes District Council said, “Geosolve is involved with Stage three of the Lakefront Development Plan to confirm suitable ground conditions for the proposed boardwalk, which is in line with the concept design presented to the community over the winter.”

Very excited that this all might happen is zoologist John Darby, known as the man behind Lake Wānaka’s grebe project. The project started in 2013 and it was originally aimed at getting a rare and threatened bird species, southern crested grebe, to breed close to the lakefront. 

The recently constructed boardwalk in Lake Hayes was decried as terrible for the birds, as dogs and other predators could just run along it and have better access to raid nests. So, it was questioned whether the project would be good for Wānaka’s birds. Darby reassured that it won’t be the case for Lake Wānaka. 

“They are very different situations. Firstly [in Lake Hayes] was the destruction of a large area what was referred to by Landcare as a unique natural wetland preparatory to the boardwalk. That boardwalk is to go through (and thus destroy more of that wetland) to get to the lake’s edge. That wetland was home to at least two species of birds that are even more rare than grebes.”

“The proposed Wānaka boardwalk instead would go high on the shoreline mostly above the water's edge. It won’t be destroying a wetland or intruding on the wildlife, in fact, it will hopefully take people further away from the wildlife,” explained Darby. “What I am proposing does not make anything easier for predators, and one of the things I have already discussed with the backyard trapping people in Wānaka, is a plan to eventually trap this area. Presently there is no predator control. It will take many years to establish a viable wetland that may be used by birds other than grebes to breed, but essentially the whole endeavour is to try and provide a place of peace and quiet that acknowledges the value of the wildlife and associated ecosystems of the lake,” Darby said.


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