Council’s $500k to save Ladies Mile trees


An eye-catching row of trees at the entrance to Queenstown might be saved after all.

A row of 29 trees, on the Ladies Mile property of the late Bill Walker, were meant to be felled in February because they were growing into power lines.

But in its annual plan , the Queenstown Lakes District Council says it could allocate $500,000 to pay half the cost of putting the power lines underground – as long as lines company Delta pays the other half.

committee spokeswoman Maggie Hillock is delighted by the council proposal.

“We are cautiously optimistic that Delta take up this opportunity to match this funding and be seen to help in the increasingly crucial retention of this stunning avenue of trees.

“The proposal of this funding recognises the increasing importance the public are placing on green amenities and the need for vigorous protection in the face of the fast-changing landscape.”

Asked if it is likely to contribute, Delta’s asset management boss Derek Todd says it will need to discuss the proposal with the council.

“We welcome any long-term solution that avoids setting a precedent where tree owners shift their legal responsibility for maintaining their own trees, and associated costs, on to electricity customers.”

Delta will trim the trees on Thursday.

Mr Todd says: “This is a one-off, temporary measure to remove the immediate public safety risk of the trees growing into the overhead lines and allow the community more time to find a long-term solution.”

The council’s consultation plan says a $500,000 cost – at this stage not included in the coming year’s budget – would increase rates in the Queenstown/Wakatipu wards by between 0.6 to 0.75 per cent for median residential properties (around $12 to $20 per year).

The impact on median businesses would be an increase of between 1.4 to 2.2 per cent (around $61 to $124 per year).

In February, Delta announced the trees would be felled because they were too costly to maintain and were growing into overhead powerlines.

At the time, the council would not take financial responsibility for their maintenance.

A public outcry prompted Delta to announce a , while the council started a fundraising web page to get donations for the maintenance. That page was later shelved and Delta agreed to cut the trees back as a one-off gesture.

Gliding pioneer and businessman Mr Walker tended the collection of oak, cherry, beech, ash, maple, sweet chestnut and horse chestnut trees for more than 25 years.

But he was killed in a gliding accident in Namibia in late 2014 and his family has struggled to keep up with the work.

Otago Daily Times