Town Belt Traverse 2017

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 its absolutely 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.


Traverse Highlights

  • 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)
  • Your camera
  • Your inquisitive nature
  • Your friends and family (dogs on leads thanks)
  • A costume (you might win a prize)
  • You can use the Normanby bus from opposite Woodhaugh to return to your vehicle at the Southern Cemetery. Check out the bus timetable here.

The Town Belt Traverse Route
The Town Belt Traverse follows the red line on the map from the historic Southern Cemetery to Woodhaugh Gardens.

Another Day Another Tree in the Ground

Poly 2016For the 22nd consecutive year students from the Otago Polytechnic Horticulture course were at Craigieburn planting native trees. The students took time to look over the work of the their peers and to marvel at the significance of the rimu forest on the site.  With around 100 native trees planted to fill in some gaps from the previous year the students were quickly into their work. Honorary Society member and chocolate Labrador “Toby” gave plenty of encouragement. Once again, many thanks to the Polytechnic and its students for helping the Society make Craigieburn a great place to visit.

Into the Town Belt walked the 600

Getting ready to start

To paraphrase Tennyson “into the Town Belt walked the 600” on Sunday 29th March for the Dunedin Amenities Society’s second Town Belt Traverse event. The Society was overwhelmed and humbled by having 600 people of all ages wanting to explore one of Dunedin’s great heritage landscapes and explore the 8.2 kilometre course. The addition of the 10 interpretation signs along the course  gave information on the history of the reserve and were a welcome addition for the walkers that many found informative and interesting. This year also saw the involvement of different groups at the stopping points including the Air Training Corps and members of the local military vehicles club at Unity Park. Perhaps one of the great surprises for many walkers was an opportunity to visit the Beverly Begg Observatory at Robin Hood. Other highlights included a visit to the beautiful gardens at Olveston and live poetry at the Charles Brasch memorial at Prospect Park. However, the star of the show was the beautiful Town Belt, with its splashes of autumnal colour, native bird song, city views and the lush native bush bathed in a sunny March day. All of these things made the reserve really shine.

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At Woodhaugh the Society was rushed off its feet feeding hungry walkers and our thanks must go to the great help we received from the ladies from Portobello School who ran the barbecue. The Traverse was also an opportunity to announce its “Project Gold” partnership with the Department of Conservation. Department staff were really pleased to be able to promote the project and interact with the walkers as they finished the route. Project Gold was established by the Department of Conservation to encourage the revitalisation of local areas with the iconic Kowhai tree. The Society will contribute $1500 per annum for the next 5 years for suitable kowhai planting projects in the Town Belt which will assist in adding new areas of the endemic tree important for wider bird feeding and connectivity in the reserve. The planting of a large specimen tree by Society Chairman Robin Hyndman and Annie Wallace the acting Director of Conservation Partnerships cemented that partnership.

Like any event you need community and business support and the Society must thank all of the generous business and attractions for their support in prizes and in advertising the Traverse. A special mention must go to Adam Cullen and the team from Speedy Signs for the production of the interpretation panels and to Alison Beck at Mitre 10 Mega Dunedin for supplying the timer for the sign stands.  The Town Belt Traverse on Sunday was a resounding success for the Society, but like all events it’s the participants that create the vibe and energy of day. There were plenty of smiling faces, a few tired ones and a few that needed an extra chocolate to get them over the line. For the Society the enjoyment of the Town Belt by so many people was a rich reward that we are proud to promote. (Click on all pictures to view in full size)

Group walking

Thank you to the following businesses and organisations for their support of prizes for the Town Belt Traverse.

Olveston, Moana Pool, Ribbonwood Nurseries, Taieri Gorge Railway, Monarch Excursions, Otago Museum, Cadbury World, Larnach castle, Blueskin Nurseries, Orokonui Eco-Sanctuary, Royal Albatross colony, Nichols Garden Centre, Speights Brewery, Pukekura Penguins, Arthur Barnetts, Coupland Bakeries, Ironic Cafe, Torpedo 7, Cycleworld, Bakers Dozen, and MTF, Speedy signs and Mitre 10 Mega Dunedin.

Thanks to those sponsored adverting.

Bayleys, Slick Willys, Dunedin City Council, The Orchid Florist, Albert Alloo & Sons, Arrow International and Action Engineering.

Thanks to those organisations that have assisted the Society in organising the Traverse.

Task Force Green, Dunedin Rotary, Air Training Corp, Dunedin Astronomical Society, Olveston, Our Poets – David Howard, Alan Roddick, Shae MacMillan, and Carolyn McCurdie, Lyn and Rachel from Portobello School,  and the Department of Conservation.

Getting the Spade in the Ground

Students at the byre with Toby

It was a welcome sight to see the sun shining brightly this morning after the rain, hail and snow that Dunedin has experienced recently. Otago Polytechnic Horticulture students with tutor Lisa Burton and Project Manager Paul Pope were at Craigieburn today undertaking their 20th year of native tree planting together. Since 1994 the horticulture students have planted around 12,000 – 13,000 trees to create a unique and flourishing new piece of native forest that compliments the existing rimu forest remnant.

Today, the students planted 200 trees, filling in a few gaps in the already well established planting that has taken place in the western paddock of Craigieburn. The Dunedin Amenities Society have been well supported by the Otago Polytechnic Horticulture course at Craigieburn and their enthusiasm for the area and the work of the Society is greatly heartening. Importantly too, its great to be able to show the students the benefits of habitat restoration and to be able to show them the work of their peers. It was also good to have new Craigieburn Committee member Councillor Aaron Hawkins come along and see first hand the importance of the partnership the Society has with the Polytechnic. Once again many thanks to students today and to all of the students who have contributed to Craigieburn over the past 20 years, your enthusiasm and hard work is valued and much appreciated. (Click on the pictures to see the images in a viewer)

Good as Gold

Tui in Kowhai - Town Belt

The Dunedin Amenities Society are to work in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Dunedin City Council on the “Project Gold” initiative in the Dunedin Town Belt. The Society have agreed to contribute $1500 per annum for the next 5 years for suitable kowhai planting projects in the Town Belt. The planting projects will assist in adding new areas of the endemic kowhai important for wider bird feeding and connectivity in the reserve. Project Gold is a Department of Conservation initiative to promote the growth of locally important kowhai around Otago. The Society sees the project as having good connections with its interest in the management and restoration of the Town Belt habitat. It also provides opportunities for schools and community groups to participate in a joint conservation project that is in their own backyard. An official announcement and project start will be in October this year. The first planting will be held in August 2015 to coincide with the original August 8th date of Arbor Day created by Society co-founder Alexander Bathgate in 1892.

The Sand Cycle

The Dunedin City Council is presently consulting on the next stage of its cycle network for South Dunedin in Victoria Road. The project has raised the ire of residents in the area because of a loss of parking, dangers to pedestrians due to the shared design of the proposal, a loss of business and the timeframe of the consultation process. The City Council has already changed the proposed route away from the sand dune area of St Clair/St Kilda because of the stability and safety of the foreshore due to on-going erosion concerns. Despite that, the notion of a cycle track in the dune area seems etched in the public’s mind to allay other effects of the proposal. For the Society, the protection of the dune areas of St Clair and St Kilda remains paramount to the long-term protection of the city, its coastal environment and its associated landscape. As a city Dunedin and its residents have been fortunate to be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities that the sand dunes have afforded them over the years. This, despite the continued pressure being placed upon dune and beach health due to pressures from land use, mixed management practices and continued erosional forces over the last 150 years.

St Clair 1939

St Clair 1939

Infrastructural development, such as the proposed cycleway must be mindful of the need to protect and promote the sustainable management of dune health for the welfare of the city and its residents. This is particularly pertinent in the face of recent erosion events along the Dunedin coastline and in the predicted sea level rise scenario’s promoted by various bodies including the City Council. From both perspectives and within the historical context the sand dunes are under extreme pressure that has continued with widespread human modification and destruction of dune habitat. The Society has repeatedly requested the City Council undertake major initiatives such as change in land use and restorative management to ensure the dunes are protected and nurtured into a productive ecological and landscape entity. The cycleway issue means that the City Council must find appropriate measures that allay the community fears over the management and design of the project. However, to achieve this it must utilise good design, consultation and common sense so as not to impose expensive infrastructure on a precarious and fragile dune habitat that protects and provides for the benefit of our city.

St Clair Emergency Repairs

St Clair Emergency Repairs

126th Annual General Meeting

Town Belt Traverse walkers in the sun

The Dunedin Amenities Society is holding its 126th Annual General Meeting at the Maori Hill Community  Centre in Highgate at 5.30pm. The guest speaker will be walking author Anthony Hamel discussing the Town Belt Traverse. All are welcome for a glass of wine and nibbles.

This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Society and become an active member of NZ’s oldest conservation society.

Find the venue on the map below (see you at the little blue flag)