Come and share your thoughts on the Ashburton River mouth

The Ashburton River/ Hakatere is a popular spot for locals and visitors that is used for activities such as fishing, walking, boating and bird watching. It is also home to the endangered black-billed gulls and other braided river birds.

Over the years there have been many discussions between landowners, residents, interest groups and the wider community about the ecological, cultural and recreational values of the river mouth, and how to protect them.

Environment Canterbury is now funding the development of a management strategy for the Ashburton River mouth to develop recommendations on how to manage and enhance the area.

As part of the project, a survey was conducted to find out what is important to local and visiting recreational users, and a second ecological survey was undertaken to get a better understanding of vegetation in the area.

Engaging with the community

During the summer holidays, Environment Canterbury staff spent time at the river mouth to talk to people about how they interact with the area and what they would like to happen with the river mouth in the future. 133 online surveys were also completed to provide further insights on how the river mouth is being used.

Janine Holland, Environment Canterbury’s Ashburton Zone Delivery Lead, says the team relished the opportunity to find out first-hand how the community connects with the river mouth.

“After receiving a wide variety of anecdotal feedback on the river mouth over the years it was great to talk directly with local people about their values and concerns for the area.

“The team really enjoyed hearing about the many ways people interact with the river mouth from fishing to bird watching and walking to four-wheel driving.

“We’re excited to be able to take this feedback and use it for the basis of developing a strategy that will help enhance and protect natural values in the area for generations to come,” she said.

Many survey respondents also said they enjoyed the general peace and quiet and feeling of wildness in the area. Access to the area was a key concern for many users with some concerned that access may be reduced, while others were concerned about the impact, particularly of 4WD and motorbikes, on wildlife. Some of the challenges raised included maintaining and improving water quality and river levels, addressing coastal erosion, and the impact of commercial uses.

The ecological survey was conducted to identify and map the different native and exotic vegetation types that are present in the river mouth area. This work will be supplemented by existing information about the native birds nesting in the area and the predator control operation that is ongoing to protect these birds.

Ashburton River mouth community meeting 

The community is being given a chance to come and find out about the survey results and share their own visions and values for the area at a meeting from 1-4pm on Saturday 16th February at the Hakatere Hutholders Hall. If you’d like to attend please email Donna Lill, dwoodley@hotmail.com

Once this feedback has been gathered the management strategy will be developed in consultation with river mouth users, runanga, landowners and key stakeholders.