Community works to beautify recreation spot

In November a dedicated group of volunteers spent their Saturday morning working to beautify Waimate's Black Hole recreational area, one of the region’s most iconic spots.

The Waihao River Planting Day saw more than 30 people of all ages – including kids and whole families – get their hands dirty planting native tree species next to the river flats along the Waihao River Walkway.

In around two hours, more than 600 flaxes, toetoe and coprosma were planted in a 300-metre stretch between the walkway and river.

Hard work was rewarded with a barbeque with food generously provided by Oceania Dairy and served by the Rotary Club of Waimate.

Volunteers who attended a planting day at the same site last year were able to see the progress those natives – planted on the south side of the track – had made over 12 months, as the site gradually begins to improve.

Waihao Wainono Community Catchment Group Chair Roger Small says the day was a great success, with all plants going into the ground within the estimated time and a positive turnout.

“We even had a few people come down from Timaru and they really enjoyed it too,” Roger says. “It was a good chance to be in the outdoor setting.”

He adds that the planting day was well supported by the community, and thanks Oceania and the Rotary Club, as well as Waihao rūnanga, Waimate Trackways, the catchment group and the Riverside Trust.

About the Black Hole Enhancement Project

The planting days are a key part of the Black Hole Enhancement Project, which aims to restore and improve the Black Hole recreational area.

In addition to native tree planting the project also involves willow removal efforts, which have improved clarity and flow in the river around the Black Hole. Recreational areas on the stretch of river between the Black Hole and McCulloch’s Bridge are also being created.

“It’s still in its early stages,” Roger says of the project. “Clearing willows opened it all up, and it will be good to get some lower growing plants in there to make it more inviting.

“It’s going to take some time to complete because it’s quite some stretch of river.”