Spring walkway could be closed
It takes thousands of visitors a month but this summer the Te Waihou Walkway is in danger of being closed to the public.
That’s the warning from the South Waikato District Council if people continue to swim in the Blue Spring.
A huge influx of people swimming in the popular Blue Spring and immediate environment last summer resulted in significant environmental degradation so swimming was banned in August with the stairs leading to the water closed off and a sign advising visitors not to enter the water erected.
‘‘Swimming is discouraged from the bridge at the Leslie Rd end of the walkway to the boardwalk just beyond the Blue Spring itself,’’ South Waikato District Council communications manager Kerry Fabrie said.
‘‘Sadly the impact of people activity has caused significant erosion to the banks and bed of the Waihou, the natural vegetation alongside the river and the weed environment favoured by the Dwarf Galaxis (threatened
‘‘We certainly don't want to close the beautiful Te Waihou Walkway... but complete closure is definitely a possibility should damage continue to occur.’’
native fish species) which is a protected species has been denuded.
‘‘A recent survey shows that a second protected species, the Spotless Crake, appears to have vanished from the area.’’
Fabrie indicated that should people continue to swim in the area, the council may have no choice but to close the walkway until long term solutions can be found and to allow the area to recover.
Despite several attempts, South Waikato mayor Jenny Shattock could not be reached for comment.
‘‘We certainly don’t want to close the beautiful Te Waihou Walkway because it is so incredibly popular and enjoyed by so many, but complete closure is definitely a possibility should damage continue to occur,’’ Fabrie said.
Raukawa Settlement Trust chair Vanessa Eparaima supported the action.
‘‘Swimming in the Blue Spring on Te Waihou Walkway has already caused significant damage to the area which if allowed to continue would only get worse,’’ she said.