Home' Napier Mail : December 6th 2011 Contents 24 NAPIER MAIL, DECEMBER 7, 2011
Lake Tutira land nurtured back
Bird's-eye view: Blue McMillan and Steve Cave admire the view of bush regenerating around Lake Tutira, while, inset, if you don't like camping you can always rent this cottage beside the
By VIVIENNE HALDANE.
View from the top: Tourists Helina Colledge, from England, and Tabitha Webb, Wales, enjoy the view from Table
Mountain above Lake Tutira, where substantial tree planting has taken place since Cyclone Bola caused massive
erosion in 1988.
Plants man: Blue McMillan checks
some native trees he planted.
The view from Blue McMillan s
verandah is superb -- willow-
fringed Lake Tutira is virtually an
extension of his front lawn.
Here we are sipping coffee and
eating fruit cake before taking a
look over Lake Tutira Country
Park, a 460-hectare block of land
owned by the Hawke s Bay
The amiable Mr McMillan is a
farmer and keen conservationist,
who is caretaker for the park,
manages the camping ground at
the lake and according to Steve
Cave, HBRC operations environ-
mental manager, does much,
much more that we don t know
In 1998, the HBRC bought the
land around the lake from the
Guthrie Smith Trust.
Our primary role was to man-
age the land as a soil conservation
reserve. After Cyclone Bola in
1988, 70 per cent of the surround-
ing hills subsided and sediment
fell into the lake, says Mr Cave.
Our main objective was to
manage the land to improve water
quality and the environment
around the lake in general.
The landscape was in a sorry
state, with hills as bare as
badgers bums -- all you could see
was grass, according to Mr
Now, it is well on its way to
Over the last three years, we
have formed a visionary group
made up of local community,
authorities and agencies such as
the Department of Conservation,
Fish & Game and the HBRC.
Instead of duplicating our
efforts we are working together
and it s going well. We already
have a couple of things on the
ground, such as informative
signage at the Tutira store.
We are identifying projects
that will benefit everybody in the
community in terms of the
environment and the ecological
and cultural significance of the
area, says Mr Cave.
To get a clearer idea of the lie of
the land, we drive over the farm
and wind upwards across a nar-
row track to the top of the ridge.
Lake Tutira is a sprawl of blue
before us, with miles and miles of
gently unfolding hills beyond.
If you saw photos of this prop-
erty in 1988 you would be hard
pressed to see a tree anywhere.
Now, thanks, to re-planting
efforts, a mix of native and exotic
trees are thriving.
If we do get a lot of rain, sedi-
ment gets trapped, instead of run-
ning straight into the lake -- it s a
good example of best practice,
says Mr Cave.
The trees have also attracted
birds to the area.
Once we started to plant tree
lucernes and natives we began
to see an increased number of
tui and kereru.
The forest park and the lake
provide a wonderful playground
for visitors whether they like fish-
ing, kayaking or a walk along the
As we take in the scenery, we
see two colourful specks -- hikers
wending their way slowly
When they finally make their
way around the rock we re stand-
ing on, we greet English tourists
Tabitha Webb and Helina Col-
ledge who lost their way but
weren t at all fazed.
It s stunning, what gorgeous
hills, says Miss Colledge.
She isn t bothered by the steep
climb and is impressed that
there s no icecream shop and no
We like the DOC campsites
because they are so natural.
Such good feedback pleases Mr
He grew up here and he and his
wife Helen raised their family
Besides farming, the country
park keeps him busy -- but you get
the feeling that conservation is his
It s a long-term project, but at
the end of the day you see some-
thing for it.
You get a lot of tourists here
and they like it for what it is, he
At the camping ground, sheep
are browsing contentedly in the
sunshine and slowly scatter
towards the lake as we approach.
A few campervans are parked
under shady trees.
We meet Aucklander Rodney
McArdle who has stopped over-
night on his way north.
It s beautiful, a lovely place
and the walks, especially, make
it, he says.
There are basic facilities at
Lake Tutira such as water, toilets,
picnic tables and the overnight fee
is $5, which campers leave in an
We try and keep it as low-
maintenance as possible so we can
manage it easily.
If you provide more amenities,
management becomes more com-
plex and this would mean we d
need to charge extra.
There are very few public
places you can go camping in
Hawke s Bay, with facilities such
as tap water, at low cost, says Mr
Mr McMillan has spotted a mob
of cattle where they shouldn t be
and we drop him off to sort out
where they broke through.
When you start off with a
vision, it s very important to stick
with it, otherwise everyone is
wasting their time, he says.
It s not going to happen over-
When you talk about vision
and legacy, you have to get past
your lifetime -- you have to think
of the next two generations, Mr
Links Archive November 29th 2011 December 13th 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page