In 1997, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council bought some 463 hectares of land on the eastern side of Lake Tūtira from the Guthrie-Smith Trust and established Tūtira Country Park.
In 2013, in line with name changes of other parks owned and managed by HBRC, it was renamed Tūtira Regional Park. HBRC’s archive photo shows how farmland in the area was devastated in 1988 when Cyclone Bola brought unprecedented rainfall, causing thousands of slips on hillsides lacking vegetation.
The property was purchased as a soil conservation reserve with two objectives. Firstly, so that the water quality in the two lakes, Tūtira and Waikopiro (which had become degraded due to historic land use in the catchment area) could be maintained and improved and, secondly, to develop a quality outdoor recreation environment for the people of Hawke’s Bay to enjoy.
Cleaning up the lakes is still a work in progress, while the scenic area is a popular destination for both local and overseas visitors.
To get there, take SH 2 from Napier and drive for around 40 kms. Access is through the DOC wildlife reserve. There are picnic areas and tables, composting toilets, fresh water (please boil), a $5 a night camping ground and four walking and hiking trails. The lower walks, including round the lake edge, are suitable for most people, while The Great View Walk to the top of the hill, which includes some steep climbs, is more arduous and better suited to the fairly fit.
HBRC has formed lasting partnerships to develop the area. DOC, Napier Branch of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, Pan Pac Forest Products Ltd, the Rotary Club of Greenmeadows, Hawke’s Bay Farm Forestry members, the Corrections Department, the Honda Tree Fund, schools and local volunteers have all played an important part in re-planting and improving the park. The NZ Air Force and international volunteers assisted with track development.
Birdlife has changed in the past 140 years, mainly due to introduced species and predators, but look out for white-faced heron and scaup, spur-winged plover, coot and dab-chick on the lakes and a pretty full range of natives in the planted areas.
Photos: Garth Eyles. Ebola damage: HBRC