Spring shut af­ter ‘ham­mer­ing’

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - TE AHUA MAIT­LAND

Of­fi­cials have put an end to swim­ming at a pic­turesque Pu­taruru spring.

Af­ter an ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of vis­i­tors, swim­mers will no longer be able to take a dip in the deep Blue Spring at the Te Wai­hou Walk­way.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, the spring be­came a pop­u­lar spot for swim­ming with its inclusion in a Stuff series about New Zealand’s best kept se­crets.

Pho­to­graphs taken by the De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion show the ef­fects of peo­ple swim­ming in the Blue Spring area be­tween Novem­ber 2014 and Fe­bru­ary 2016.

‘‘The im­pact is ex­tremely clear,’’ Fabrie said. ’’We have al­ways pre­sented the Te Wai­hou as a walk­way. It is not a swim­ming hole. The Blue Spring is not a swim­ming hole.’’

Fabrie said coun­cil had heard from nu­mer­ous peo­ple in the com­mu­nity with their con­cerns of peo­ple swim­ming.

‘‘They said the beauty and the seren­ity of the area was com­pletely de­stroyed.’’

Fabrie said typ­i­cally, about 10,000 to 11,000 peo­ple would use the walk­way dur­ing any given year. How­ever, dur­ing Novem­ber, De­cem­ber last year and Jan­uary this year, num­bers sky­rock­eted.

About 4500 peo­ple used the walk­way in Novem­ber, 5000 in De­cem­ber and near 9000 in Jan­uary.

‘‘Our in­fra­struc­ture was not de­signed to cope with those num­bers of vis­i­tors. The en­tire walk­way took a ham­mer­ing and the Blue Spring area took a ham­mer­ing.’’

Chair of Raukawa Set­tle­ment Trust, Vanessa Eparaima, said the area is of great cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance to Raukawa.

‘‘We need to work to­gether to pro­tect the puna and en­vi­ron­ment. We en­cour­age all vis­i­tors to take in the beauty of this area and en­joy its pris­tine waters, but please re­frain from swim­ming within the puna.’’ Fabrie said coun­cil will not per­mit mo­bile food traders at the Les­lie Rd en­trance, and the fence line will soon be shifted to the le­gal front boundary which will re­duce the num­ber of park­ing spa­ces.

There will also be no ad­di­tional tem­po­rary, or per­ma­nent toi­lets in­stalled, other than a toi­let at the Whites Road en­trance.

Coun­cil in­tends to de­velop a co-man­age­ment plan with Raukawa and other par­ties for the Te Wai­hou and work with them.

Peo­ple will no longer be able to cool off in the Springs’ waters.

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