Vehicle, firearms and camping restrictions mooted to protect special character of Waipara River.

Restrictions on vehicles, firearms and camping are being proposed to protect one of Hurunui district’s special river environments for continued enjoyment by current and future generations.
The proposed restrictions are included in the Draft Waipara River Management Strategy, which has grown from a community desire to better integrate the protection and management of the land and ecological values with recreational values.
Environmental Services Manager, Andrew Feierabend says the draft Strategy seeks to provide a framework for managing what is generally acknowledged as a special environment. 
“The Waipara River contains historically, scientifically and naturally important sites. The first fossil bones found in New Zealand were discovered in the river in 1859 and numerous fossils including the teeth of about 17 species of shark, many of which are now extinct have also been recovered.
“It is highly valued for its natural, physical, spiritual and recreational values, qualities many in our community fear are being adversely affected as the river comes under increasing pressure from competing demands from water users, recreationalists, residents, and vehicle use.”
Residents and visitors alike have historically enjoyed the area for activities such as walking, picnicking, swimming, fishing, hunting or camping.
Andrew Feierabend acknowledges that, “in some instances generations of families have been camping there”. However, he says, the growing number of visitors and increased development along the river giving rise to lifestyle blocks and vineyards, has also increased the potential for conflict between various river users.
“While there remains a general desire to maintain some form of access and continued recreational enjoyment of the area, this has to be balanced against the need to also protect the river’s unique features and special values, as well as adjoining landowners rights.”
Banning vehicles at the Waipara River mouth and between Ohuriawa (Doctors) and White Gorge; restricting access between White Gorge and Millist Esplanade Reserve; and limiting camping to the areas around State Highway 1 bridge and between Webbs Road and Golf Links Road; are among the recommendations in the draft Strategy as to how this might occur.
“Controlling access is about minimising conflicts between those enjoying the peace and quiet values of the river and surrounding environment, such as adjoining landowners, hikers, swimmers and fishermen, and those who choose to use motorised vehicles in the river bed.”
Similarly restricting firearms use to shotguns at the Waipara River Mouth and around the State Highway 1 Bridge area during daylight hours is also a safety initiative.
“There have been a number of reported incidents where firearms have been used in close proximity to dwellings and or other river users with the potential for injury or even death.”
Horse riding, cycling and pedestrian access will continue to be encouraged, with purpose built tracks developed in particular areas.
The Draft Waipara River Management Strategy is available from any Council service centre, library or on our website.

Comments must be received by 5pm Thursday 30 September 2010.
For further information:
Andrew Feierabend
Environmental Services Manager
03 314 0013

Helga Rigg
Senior Planner
03 314 0020