Bushy Park Wetlands
Rotary develops wetlands as an outdoor classroom
Bushy Park sanctuary is one of the Wanganui Region’s hidden gems, situated 20kms north of the city, it boasts an historic homestead, 91ha of original native lowland forest and attractive wetlands. Indigenous wetlands are one of the most seriously threatened habitats across the whole country, less than 2% of original wetlands remain. With this in mind the Bushy Park Trust and the Rotary Club of Wanganui North formed a partnership in late 2013 to develop and extend the park’s wetlands.
The Bushy Park wetlands is fast becoming an important facility for school groups to use as an outdoor classroom. The wetlands is home to rare native plants, gecko, frogs and freshwater creatures. An abundance of insect life inhabit the wetland area, providing food sources for increasing numbers of bird species, including Fantails, Robins, Kingfisher, Kereru, Hihi, Bellbirds, Tui and Falcon.
With valuable assistance from Bushy Park Trustee, Wilf Emmett, and his machinery, this $35,000+ project incorporates a boardwalk, amphitheatre, native planting and signage.
New forest tracks lead down to the wetlands from the homestead. Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Wanganui businesses and individuals sponsoring $55 named planks, the 90m Rotary North boardwalk and its jetties have been fully funded and built by Rotarians. The boardwalk weaves across the wetland giving visitors an uninterrupted view of this beautiful tranquil area, with the surrounding native bush landscape reflecting in the water. The boardwalk is linked to the amphitheatre.
The Rotary North amphitheatre has been funded by Wanganui North Rotary, raising funds through a raffle and a matching grant from Rotary District 9940. The 60-seater amphitheatre is roofed to provide shelter, and with its stunning views across the wetland, it will be used as an outdoor classroom for the many school groups visiting Bushy Park. A shed has been erected for storing the equipment used when observing the many water creatures in the pond.
Together with advice from a local native plant expert and generous funding from the Eleanor Burgess Trust and the Wanganui Beautifying Society, 2000 native plants purchased from the Department of Corrections Wanganui nursery have been planted.
Interpretative signage has been erected, giving information on the wetlands flora, fauna, birdlife and water creatures.
The Governor-General of NZ, Sir Jerry Mateparae, formally opened the Bushy Park wetlands project on Saturday May 23, 2015, with stalls, entertainment, a vintage car display and hundreds of people in attendance. Official guests also included Wanganui Mayor, Annette Main, and Rotary District 9940 then Governor, Anthony Scott. Hundreds of hours of fundraising and working bees over many months has given the Wanganui North Rotarians a new focus and camaraderie. As one member commented, “The working bees are what I enjoy and what Rotary is all about.”
To all Rotarians and friends: If you are in the Wanganui area, please take time to visit Bushy Park, 791 Rangitatau East Rd, Kai Iwi. Its homestead, native forest, bird life and now its developed wetland are a special must see in the Wanganui region.