THE New River Estuary Walkway beautification project is now complete, and to celebrate three shelters will be officially opened on Sunday.
Invercargill City Council (ICC) parks manager Robin Pagan said the former refuse dump was now covered in hundreds of thousands of native plants, thanks to members of the six Invercargill Rotary clubs and parks staff.
The ambitious joint project between the Rotary clubs and the ICC parks division to plant 22ha of native plants around the Pleasure Bay Lagoon and the New River Estuary walkway had taken hundreds of volunteers 12 years, he said.
Members of five Rotary clubs – Invercargill North, Invercargill, Invercargill South, Invercargill East and Invercargill Sunrise – helped with the planting of more than 250,000 natives to revegetate the area.
Next Rotary Generation club members had also been involved since the club was chartered in 2016.
The service clubs decided the walk and cycleway was a worthy cause for the Rotary centennial year (2005) because revegetating the area would benefit a wide range of users, Mr Pagan said.
The trail is gravelled and has boardwalks and interpretative panels outlining the history of the estuary. Seating and various shelters have been added.
Coinciding with the ending of the project and official opening of the shelters, 2017 was also the year the Rotary Foundation marked its centenary.
“The project began in 2005 marking Rotary International’s centennial, and will officially close marking Rotary Foundation’s centenary,” Mr Pagan said.
The sturdy, triangular shelters have been constructed from macrocarpas which grew in Otakaro Park, on the corner of Don St and Queens Dr, and were felled and milled when Queens Dr was widened.
They give a dramatic and chunky look to the landscape.
“We were aiming for a nautical design, with a rustic look,” Mr Pagan said.
The shelters have been placed so people could rest or shelter from the elements, with each of the three facing different vistas.
“No matter what the weather is like, people can pop in there for shelter.”
The completion of the project will be acknowledged with the official opening of the shelters at the top of the hill near the Bond St car park on Sunday at 1pm.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the celebrations. Naturalist and teacher Lloyd Esler will also be at the opening and will talk briefly about the bird life in and around the estuary. He will also bring along a telescope for people to view some of the bird life.