When you wake up early on the morning of any event you’re planning the first instinct is to check the weather, and Sunday, April 23rd did not disappoint. With a warm autumn day bathed in sunshine nearly 900 people and 100 dogs explored the 8.2 kilometre route through the Dunedin Town Belt. The Society were delighted and humbled at the massive turn out of participants for the Traverse this year. The conservation expo at the finish in Woodhaugh was also a great success for the community groups involved. This is the first time the Society have partnered the Traverse with Wild Dunedin and it was an exciting and natural fit for our city. The Society loves hosting so many families, children and participants of all ages in the Town Belt. Being able to make it a free event is very important so that we can share our love of this historic space. We have been very fortunate to receive the support of generous sponsors and volunteers to make the Traverse such a success. Its shows a real spirit in Dunedin that cares for this great reserve. So to everyone who participated, donated time and supported the Dunedin Town Belt Traverse 2017 our grateful thanks from the Dunedin Amenities Society. (Click on pictures to view in full screen).
Its time to get your walking shoes on again and explore one of Dunedin’s great natural and historical landscapes. The Town Belt Traverse is an 8.2 kilometre from the Southern Cemetery to Woodhaugh Gardens taking in the heart of the Dunedin Town Belt on Sunday 23rd April and itsabsolutely free!
The route is a pram friendly (3 wheel buggies with some help) event for people of all ages stopping off at five points along the way. Participants will receive a map and ticket at the car-park inside the Southern Cemetery. The traverse starts at between 10-11 am and all participants must complete the traverse by 1.30. Collect a stamp at all five marshal points and you can be eligible for some great local prizes drawn at the finish. You must be at the draw to collect your prize. The route is marked and there will be marshals at road crossing points along the way. Register on the day at the start of the walk.
The Dunedin Town Belt is one of New Zealand’s oldest reserves and plays a special part in the physical and historic landscape of Dunedin. It has a rich history that dates back to the planning of Dunedin before settlers arrived here in 1848. The Town Belt covers 203 hectares and includes the two historic cemeteries and the Botanic Gardens. With its extensive parkland and forest remnants it creates a green corridor through the heart of the city.
Today the Town Belt is an important recreational and ecological asset for the city and provides invaluable habitat for kereru, bellbird, tomtit, tui, rifleman, morepork, and shining cuckoo. The vegetation is an eclectic mix of exotics that dominates the southern area of the ‘belt to the more kanuka and fuchsia dominated ridges and gullies of the northern areas. At Woodhaugh an old stand of kahikatea remains as a reminder of a significant wetland forest that once stood there.
For the Dunedin Amenities Society the protection and enhancement of the Town Belt was the beginning of its foundation in 1888. The Society was founded through the energy of Thomas Brown and Alexander Bathgate to protect, enhance and promote Dunedin’s landscape and biodiversity. The Town Belt Traverse is your opportunity to explore through a self guided walk one of New Zealand’s great reserve sites.
The outstanding views from Admiral Byrd’s lookout at Unity Park
Walking through Jubilee Park (Thomlinson’s Paddock) the site of the foundation of the Society and a temporary camp for miners on their way to the goldfields
Serpentine Avenue where Toitu stream once flowed
Learn about the old tram line running through Robin Hood Park from the High Street cable car group.
Learn more about the cosmos from the Beverly-Begg Observatory
Take a free visit the gardens and grounds of the Olveston stately home
Experience the lushness of the fuchsia dominated forest of Queens Drive to Cosy Dell
Hear local poets perform at the Clear in honour of Charles Brasch at Prospect Park
Enjoy lunch at the old wetland forest remnant at Woodhaugh (Free BBQ supplied)
Get a kowhai seed kit and learn more about Project Gold in the Town Belt
What to Bring
Comfortable walking shoes
A warm jacket (you won’t need it because it’ll be warm and sunny!)
A drink and a snack for energy (we have a chocolate bar to get you started)
The Town Belt is surrounded with schools and its long been an ambition of the Society to get those schools and their teachers involved with the reserve. Over the last few months the Society have been working with the Department of Conservation, Dunedin City Council, and the Otakou & Puketeraki Runanga to develop an education programme based on the values of the Town Belt. Part of this process has been to invite teachers from schools to get inspired by the Town Belt by well-known bug man Rudd Kleinpaste.
Rudd who was in Dunedin for Conservation Week 2016, gave the invited teachers some inspiring ideas for teaching children about nature. He challenged their thinking about teaching science and conservation as well offering his insight on the possibilities of the area. The education programme is an exciting development for the reserve and the Society hopes it will create a new generation of young people to become stewards and guardians of this very special area of our city.
The first week of spring is a great time to shrug of the winter blues and get back into the outdoors again. The Society is undertaking a guiding tour of Craigieburn on Sunday 11th September starting at 10.30. There will be an opportunity to look at some of the artifacts from the archaeological work undertaken on the site and learn more about the use of the area as a Scottish subsistence farm. The walk through the mature rimu forest to see some of the 700 year old giants is one of the highlights. The walk is relatively easy and suitable for people of all ages. So come on along and embrace your pioneer spirit at Craigieburn.
In the last 30 years our concepts of recreation, education and even the way we have fun outdoors has altered significantly. Some of those changes have been driven by our eager embracing of digital technology and the ready availability of information and entertainment in the palm of our hands. Other changes have been societal and economic factors, such as the hours we work, our concepts of risk and safety and even having the knowledge to find opportunities for outdoor recreation and play.
British film-maker and founder of The Wild Network David Bond recently presented a seminar to a range of Dunedin people involved in recreation, education and conservation. David has increasingly seen children who no longer have a direct connection to nature and who are fast losing the knowledge that previous generations had of the outdoors. Part of the reason for this has been the upsurge in the availability of television, the internet and the power of advertising creating sedentary children. With an increasing obesity epidemic in western countries including New Zealand our ability to be active and use natural spaces to play and roam in is now vital. It’s also esential that our children are able to explore nature so that we create a new generation of active conservation stewards, advocates and lovers of nature.
With David Bond the group looked at the barriers to kids connecting with nature and there were four main themes;
Fear – for children’s safety, stranger danger, being risk adverse
Time – parents being too busy to be able to supervise children’s outdoor play
Space – the availability of natural areas
Technology – the competing demands from screen-time which takes away from outdoors play.
As the seminar continued and the group looked at the Dunedin example it became clear that the same barriers to connecting children with nature were present here;
People not knowing the value of spending time in nature
Lack of parental time to facilitate children’s time in nature
Lack of access to green spaces
Time-poor kids (too many competing demands such as homework, sport etc)
A perception of ‘geeky nature’; nature-play not being cool
Parental peer-pressure to not have ‘wild kids’
Overzealous H&S requirements and a blame culture leading to time in nature being seen as too risky
Lack of equipment, competency and knowledge
Dunedin is a great city, full of fantastic places to visit and play, but just how well do we promote their values and their use to the community? The Dunedin landscape has much to offer our community, but how well do we know our neighbourhood parks and reserves? By and large those places cost us nothing to use, and as David Bond suggests nature is actually free. So while there is a bounty on our doorstep, some in our community know very little about those areas and the experiences they offer. This was brought home to the Society recently when people on the 2015 Town Belt Traverse said they “didn’t know this was here!“
As an organisation the Dunedin Amenities Society have a role to play in encouraging people in the community to explore our open spaces and encourage our children to put the wild back into the wilderness.
Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers and romance, and on a warm Dunedin afternoon a group of fifty history and heritage lovers made their way around Dunedin’s shoreline trail. After an overview presentation at Toitu from Heritage New Zealand archaeologist and Society member Paul Pope, the group took the central city shoreline tour. The route follows the 1865 Dunedin shoreline and includes the original prison, lagoon, Octagon, site of Otepoti and Queens Gardens. It was a very enjoyable to be able to share this great insight into our city’s history. The popularity of the shoreline trail adds to the enthusiasm for making this a permanent attraction. (Click on the pictures to see larger view)