The Willows is ready to be explored

The Willows will be officially opened on Saturday.

The park has been developed by Environment Canterbury, in conjunction with Selwyn District Council, for non-motorised recreational activities.

Park-goers will be able to make the most of a dedicated walking and cycling trail, while there is also a motorhome camping area for New Zealand Motor Caravan Association members.

The Willows is located at the end of Thompsons Road, off Old West Coast Road in West Melton, and the opening will start at midday on Saturday, May 11. Everyone is welcome, and people are encouraged to arrive from 11.30am.

Environment Canterbury park rangers will be at the opening to show people around the park and Selwyn mayor Sam Broughton will be in attendance.

James Page, team leader parks and forests for Environment Canterbury, said this was an exciting development for the region.

“Cantabrians and visitors to the Selwyn area can make the most of this park,” Page said.

“We are very proud of this development and believe it has something for everyone to enjoy.”

Activities

  • There will be fishing access along the river frontage at The Willows and Weedons Forest, with access via Thompsons Road and Weedons Ross Road
  • There are dedicated walking and cycling trails

Community engagement

In the lead-up to the opening, approximately 75 students from West Melton School had the opportunity to help with planting trees at The Willows to aid the long-term sustainability of the park.

“It was great to be able to engage with our community and ensure the children were part of something that will be a valuable asset to Canterbury for years to come,” Page said.

Motor caravan campsite

James Imlach, national policy and planning manager for the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association, said this was an exciting partnership to be involved with.

“There is growing demand within our membership for more destination-type campsites that provide safe and easy access to passive recreational activities, such as fishing spots, walking and cycling tracks,” Imlach said.

“The Willows ticks all the boxes and will provide our members with a unique camping experience, not too far from Christchurch, but isolated enough to enjoy getting away for the weekend.”

Trail bikes and 4WD

Motorised recreation is not permitted in The Willows. For trail bike riders, there's 28km of tracks in Miners Forest to Haul Road, while there are also some other tracks in Weedons Forest that can be accessed via Weedons Ross Road.

Four-wheel drive enthusiasts can access the river upstream of Intake Road on the south bank or the north bank of the Waimakariri River, west of Harrs Road.

People who would like more information about the opening of The Willows can contact the Environment Canterbury parks team via duty.ranger@ecan.govt.nz.