Logging project a real journey

Huge operation: The relatively bald Von Hill Peninsula, after clearing work PICTURE: OTAGO DAILY TIMES

A tourism company’s project to rid its land of wilding trees and invasive weeds has transformed a peninsula across Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown.

Over nearly two years, Real Journeys has logged about 30ha of Douglas fir trees and cleared a similar area of invasive weeds such as broom, gorse and hawthorn from the Von Hill Peninsula.

VIDEO: See the transformation

The peninsula overlooks the Colonel’s Homestead and Walter Peak High Country Farm, the destination for the company’s vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw.

Real Journeys’ Tony McQuilkin says Douglas fir was an introduced pine that reproduces rampantly.

“We had a seed source here which had the potential to spread.”

If unchecked, it would have infested the flanks of Walter and Cecil Peaks, leaving them looking as “awful” as the hills on the other side of the lake.

Beach Point: New campsite
Beach Point: New campsite

McQuilkin says the best way to control regrowth on the cleared land is to turn it into pasture and stock it heavily with sheep and cattle, which the company was doing in partnership with neighbouring Walter Peak Station.

It had also built a public walkway leading to a campsite on the peninsula’s point, on 2000 square metres of land owned by the Department of Conservation, that he expected would become popular with Queenstown boat-users.

It has a gas barbecue, toilet and shelter.

Poplars and willows along the peninsula’s shore have been removed, and pockets of native trees and shrubs planted in their place, including 6000 alone around the camping site, he says.

However, the work carried out so far was only the beginning of a 10-to-15-year project. Many thousands more native plants, including kauri, and some exotic trees, would be planted.

The campsite would open to the public by Christmas, he says.

Otago Daily Times