Fish & Game protects urban wetland in Wānaka

  • Conservation Fresh Water
  • 10/10/2023

Fish & Game protects urban wetland in Wānaka

Otago Fish & Game Council alongside the Queen Elizabeth 2 National Trust (QE2) has covenanted one of Otago’s most unusual wetlands, ensuring its ongoing protection.

A QE2 Covenant has been placed on Bullock Creek Hatchery Springs wetland, which is owned by Otago Fish & Game, in Wānaka.

Otago Fish & Game chief executive Ian Hadland said wetlands associated with freshwater springs were rare enough, but having them in an urban setting was unique.

Water from an underground aquifer, thought to originate from the Cardrona Valley, percolates out in high volumes from beneath a terrace in central Wanaka, creating a 2-hectare wetland area.

The gin-clear spring water is the headwaters of Bullock Creek and was once the site of a fish hatchery due to its pure water quality and steady volume.

“It’s an amazing sight as the spring water accumulates at the lower edge of the wetland and within 200 metres the headwaters of Bullock Creek is nearly too big to jump across,” Mr Hadland said.

The covenant has been put in place to protect the springs wetland from future subdivision, encourage native revegetation and to protect the habitat and spawning areas of freshwater fish.

“The QE2 Covenant on the area provides for improvements to the wetland values so the clearing of weeds and the ongoing revegetation project with our partners Friends of Bullock Creek and the Department of Corrections will continue,” Mr Hadland said.

“The covenant also helpfully provides for the community’s enjoyment of the area through a public access easement which Otago Fish & Game Council had registered on the title in 2017. That now has a boardwalk across it.

“This is game bird and fishing licence funds at work to protect the environment, not just for sports fish, but for indigenous species as well.

“That’s not new for us but we are particularly proud of protecting this natural asset in perpetuity.”

The plant restoration work has been coordinated by former Fish & Game officer Paul van Klink.

More than 6000 volunteer hours from Friends of Bullock Creek and Department of Corrections community work parties had gone into the project, Mr van Klink said.

“This covenant would not have happened if we hadn’t started the habitat restoration work,” he said.

“By removing exotic trees and weeds, and replacing them with almost 8500 native plants since 2016, this has created the space for the QE2 Covenant, which we are pleased will protect this wetland from development.”

 * A public presentation to celebrate the QE2 covenant and recognise the ongoing work of the dedicated volunteers will be held at Bullock Creek Hatchery Springs at 4.30pm on November 11.

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