The country's first official landcare group has transformed a drainage gully in Havelock North into a suburban oasis.

The Karituwhenua Stream Reserve began in 1992 as an erosion-control measure and became a walkway in 1996 thanks to hard graft by neighbours.

"Most of the plantings we have done here are native trees and as a result of that we have a large number of native birds here now which is good – a huge number of tui. It is very noisy up here in spring time," group chairman Bob Harris said.

A trapping programme included hedgehogs because they competed with birds for insects.

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The gully was once home to a clayworks, but it was forced to relocate in the 1930s after an earthquake caused the reserve's spring to dry up.

The spring only flows in wet weather now – but the flow of walkers on the loop track is year-round.

"It's a 1.6km walk – there and back again – and there is quite a variation of scenery as you walk through," Harris said.

"As you get up towards the top it opens out, we have mown grassed areas with picnic tables and a lot of well-established exotic trees.

"Some of the oak trees up there we understand were planted about 1880."

Harris said neighbourhoods around the country should take ownership of similar drainage land, with councils in support.

"It is not easy to start but as you can see here, the end result is great. When local people see what is happening they will want to get involved because they can see the huge potential."

Entrances to the walkway can be found at 180 Te Mata Rd, Kingsgate Ave, Reeve Drive and Fulford Place.

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