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.

The Underside of Ugly

English Writer H G Wells once wrote ” There is nothing in machinery, there is nothing in embankments and railways and iron bridges and engineering devices to oblige them to be ugly. Ugliness is the measure of imperfection”. If ugliness is the measure of imperfection then the areas adjacent to the overbridges on Cumberland and Jetty Streets are perfect examples. The structural components of the bridges have created a wasteland of dead vegetation and litter that fail any stern test of aesthetics.  These areas are simply forgotten blocks of “lost space” that provide no landsdcape or biodiversity opportunities in our city. Areas like these need sympathetic and appropriate planting to soften the hard edges of the built aspects of the environment. Importantly too, such planting also requires the remediation of the adjacent soil for plants to thrive. There needs to be greater significance and planning given to the creation of biological linkages for invertebrate and avian populations living within the urban environment. Small as these things are, their significance cannot be discounted by planners, engineers and councillors who collectively fashion how our city looks and functions on many levels.

The Dunedin City Council is currently wrestling in the Annual Plan jelly pit with a proposal for a bridge to the wharf. The Society suggests that some serious consideration needs to be given to the way the space needed for such a construction can be integrated sympathetically within the environment to avoid the views that we have created in these examples.

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