Walking New Zealand

New Zealand Walk: Grovetown Lagoon - a great conservati­on effort in Marlboroug­h

- By Alex and Jenny Davies

On a gloomy winter’s day with two small and restless boys, the solution was to wrap up well and go for a walk. A short drive out of Blenheim and we were at the banks of a strip of water that once was part of the mighty Wairau River. But today it is a lot smaller and more peaceful.

Informativ­e signboards explained that here, in the early days of settlement, ships from Australia could tie up at the “Steam Wharf” adjacent to Grovetown, at that time surrounded by an immense kahikatea forest, the “Big Bush”. This transporta­tion hub was lost in 1861 when a huge flood turned the loop into a lagoon with an island in the middle.

There would be no way we would be walking here without the good planning and hard work of many local enthusiast­s that have, in the last 20 years, cleaned up a mess of invasive willows and climbing weeds, planted many hundreds of trees, built bridges and formed a track around the perimeter of the lagoon.

For the last two years it has become a popular place for walkers who can see fish in clean spring water and birds finding sanctuary along the protected inside margin.

It was an easy walk taking less than an hour.

The Wither Hills showed up beyond the trees on the island. Neat rows of grape vines were never far away. In two places, extra loops of track have been added through areas of special vegetation.

There had been much disruption caused by the Kaikoura earthquake in 2016, but teams of volunteers soon restored the tracks badly damaged by liquefacti­on.

A bridge crosses over to the island, and on the other side a short path leads to a hide from which to observe bird life along the lagoon, and identify what might be seen using pictures as a guide.

The boys are already good walkers; hopefully they will learn to appreciate the work of the volunteers that created and maintain this walk, and play their part in times to come.

 ??  ?? Above: A rainbow appears to the right over the lagoon.
Above: A rainbow appears to the right over the lagoon.
 ??  ?? Below left: Two black shags.
Below left: Two black shags.
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