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Our Environment: Issue Issue 10 - Summer 1997:

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter


The Parks Unit is in the process of developing a draft management plan for Bottle Lake Forest Park, Chaneys Forest and Kainga Forest. Submissions were received from interested parties up until Christmas 1996 and are now being considered in the preparation of the final plan.

The concept of a forest park is based on the idea of multiple use managment. This can mean that a range of recreational uses may be conducted within the forest park in conjunction with other uses such as the sustainable forest production.

The planting of these forests was originally not for production forestry but as a means of controlling sand dune encroachment on to the valuable market gardens of Marshlands. In 1912 various species of exotics such as eucalypts, redwoods, oaks, oregon and spruce were all planted but proved miserable failures. The success story however was Pinus radiata from California which could withstand the harsh coastal conditions. This was planted in conjunction with marram grass to try to stabilise the dunes. From early records researchers were astounded to discover that trees up to 50ft tall (16m) had been covered by sand! Even today large areas of recently planted trees have been covered overnight by dunes driven by the northerly winds.

Bottle Lake has about 250,000 visitors annually with the principal recreational uses being walking, jogging, mountain biking, horse riding and orienteering, together with visits by schools and universities for educational and research purposes. More recently, the Forest Park has become popular as a cross-training area for sports groups and as a venue for special events such as the Bottle Lake Fun Run. Events at the Park this year include the recent orienteering championships, an equestrian endurance event and a mountain bike duathlon.

A series of roads and tracks criss-cross Bottle Lake Forest Park (an area six times the size of Hagley Park). The main pedestrian/jogging track, Blue Track, is roughly circular and 10km in length. The Green (3km) and Yellow (2km) tracks are shorter walking/running tracks which many people use walk to the dog, visit the fire pond picnic area and enjoy the variation these tracks offer. There are also branches off these tracks such as White Track, which may be considered slightly more challenging.

With the increasing use of mountain bikes at Bottle Lake, estimated at around 1700 per week, a purpose-built loop track, 9 - 12km in length, now extends through much of the Park. It traverses a variety surface types and terrain, suitable for beginners through to more experienced mountain bikers. A recent extension to the mountain bike track now links Spencer Park into the network and is a popular destination for family excursions.

In the future it has been proposed to improve the link between Chaneys and Kainga forests for recreational activities. These forests have not been available for recreational use to date but have the potential to complement Bottle Lake Forest Park in a variety of ways. Horse riding, archery and orienteering have been identified as possible new uses. For the more adventurous, a walkway link incorporating Bottle Lake, Chaneys and Kainga through to the Waimakariri River, has been suggested which would provide a pleasant and challenging day trip for many.

Further developments within the Forest Park include provision of permanent tracks for people with disabilities, the establishment of an information centre and playground, and the upgrade and design of the fire pond picnic area and main carpark.

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