Four wheel drivers dig out a dedicated space to get dirty

Around 50 trucks took to the dirt and mud in Ashburton on Saturday, September 7 to open a new playground for those who like their vehicles muddy.

The Mid Canterbury 4x4 Park is a dedicated space at the river end of Cochranes Road just south of Ashburton, where four-wheel drive enthusiasts can challenge themselves to dig through a muddy course. The space is free to use, and only available to 4x4 vehicles.

The 4x4 park is the result of more than three years of planning and implementation from a dedicated group that included recreational 4x4 users and local councils.

The idea came about when Environment Canterbury launched a management strategy for the Ashburton River. Recommendations were made to keep four-wheel drives out of the braided riverbed when birds are nesting between September and February.

During public meetings, the local 4x4 club expressed their willingness to work to find a solution that suited all parties.

Mid Canterbury Four Wheel Drive Club Secretary John McDonald says that he mentioned that if 4x4’s were to be banned from the river, drivers would have nowhere else in Mid Canterbury to go. Without an alternative 4x4 spot, a ban would not work, he said.

A suitable spot was found near the riverbank. The area was fenced and a single track dug out. The result was seen for the first time in September – a dedicated park for four-wheel drivers to test their skills, in a place where native wildlife is not threatened.

John says that he and his fellow 4x4 enthusiasts are very happy with the result, and the support from the Environment Canterbury Ashburton team, without whom he says the project would not have happened.