Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Parks under pressure to cope with extra visitors

Te Haruhi Beach at Shakespear Regional Park. Photo / Suppleid
Te Haruhi Beach at Shakespear Regional Park. Photo / Suppleid

Parks on metropolitan Auckland's doorstep are soaring in popularity - adding pressure to develop camping and recreation facilities for an extra million visitors expected within five years.

The number of visits to the regional parks has gone from 2 million a year in 1987 to more than 5 million last year.

Use is growing at twice the region's population growth, said regional and specialist parks manager Mace Ward.

"There is increasing demand for staying in the parks' rental baches, camping grounds and in campervans. There is increasing demand for recreation such as mountain biking, horse riding and kayaking."

Last year, the parks management plan was reviewed and listed projects for improving facilities at 23 parks over a decade.

The budget for new projects and renewals for two years amounts to about $1 a visitor.

There was a need to improve capacity of popular parks such as Shakespear (Whangaparaoa Peninsula), the Mahurangi Harbour, Ambury and Long Bay.

Shakespear park re-opens for camping and picnics on December 1 after five months of pest poisoning.

"We need to respond to growth at Long Bay, where [we] will have 7500 new residents on the doorstep from the Todd Properties development."

Present finances allowed a 25 per cent increase in $10 a night tent sites to cater for a total of 2410 people.

"There is a real demand for back-to-basics camping, nothing too flash - we have not got into glam-ping."

Opportunities are being created for a hundred more campervans to stay overnight.

Five parks now can take campervans with certificates of self containment.

Mountain bikers will see more tracks at 16 parks and 10 parks now have trails for horse riding.

The network has 400km of tracks to maintain and improve, especially in the Waitakere Ranges where tracks are used by 20,000 people a year.

Sea kayak paddlers cruising along the Maraetai coast can camp at Tapapakanga, Tawhitokino and soon at Duder.

But Mr Mace said gaps in funding over the next five years had been identified.

This would frustrate releasing the full potential of land bought for future parks in the last years of the Auckland Regional Council, before the Super City merger.

These are Te Rau Puriri (South Kaipara Head), Atiu Creek ( Wellsford), Te Muri (Mahurangi West), and Waitawa (Kawakawa Bay).

"There are many hundreds of hectares sitting there that could be further developed," said Parks, Recreation and Heritage forum chairwoman Sandra Coney.

- NZ Herald

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