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Kaikōura one year on

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since the 7.8 magnitude North Canterbury earthquake, which resulted in severe damage throughout the district and saw the township of Kaikōura completely isolated. SH1, the railway and the Inland Road were badly affected by slips, cracking and rock falls. Farms, homes and businesses were damaged.

Power and internet went down, drinking water systems, sewage systems and local roads were all badly affected. The Kaikōura harbour floor was uplifted by up to two metres, making it usable only at high tide. Residents faced uncertainty and loss.

A year on, although for many it has been very tough physically and mentally and there is still much work to do, significant progress has been made. Importantly, the harbour is fully operational again and many agencies are working together to address land damage, waste, infrastructure, social, financial, and mental health issues.

And tourism is slowly returning to the seaside town.

More information about the journey the Kaikōura community is on, is available on the district council’s website www.kaikoura.govt.nz. Or better still, why not pay Kaikōura a visit this summer.

Kaikōura is where the mountains reach the sea, and the peninsula is well-known for its large colonies of New Zealand fur seals/kekeno, whales and dolphins

Get on your bike!

Summer is here and Canterbury has some of the best mountain biking scenery in the world (in our opinion). In North Canterbury the Ashley Rakahuri Regional Park is the place to go. Children and adults alike will enjoy the shared walking/biking Rakahuri Trail.

Start on River Road behind the racecourse at Rangiora and make your way downstream to East Belt. Shorter single-track trails are accessible off the Rakahuri Trail. Or head to McLeans Island Road in Christchurch and into

McLeans Forest for tracks for all ages and abilities. There are a few rules, like keeping dogs under control and no open fires, which make it more fun for everyone.

More information, tips and maps are available at our website under Regional Parks and on the parks Facebook page (Environment Canterbury Regional Parks).

Templars Trail

If you are looking for a few hours of easy, flat riding check out the newly opened Templars Trail. Running from McLeans Forest to Brookland Lagoon, the trail follows the river to the river mouth past The Sanctuary wetlands and other pockets of indigenous biodiversity. If you are taking younger children, we recommend you leave a second car at one end but otherwise it is a great day out regardless of your cycling ability.

Taking sanctuary

The Sanctuary, near the end of Coutts Island Road in Christchurch, is one of the last remaining sizeable freshwater swamps in the lower Waimakariri River. More than 40 native plant species have been recorded in the spring-fed Sanctuary wetlands. It is also an ideal habitat for the secretive bittern, marshcrake and spotted crake.

Left: The secretive Bittern. Image credit: Steve Atwood Right: Templars Trail

Good stuff: Breathe easy

Our air is clearing, thanks to thousands of Cantabrians who have switched to cleaner forms of home heating such as heat pumps and ultra-low emission wood burners. We’ve heard great feedback about warmer, drier homes – and even health benefits – as a result.

The pollutant in the air that we’re most concerned about is called PM10. These particles are so small we can’t even see them but when we breathe them in, they can cause respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

The new Canterbury Air Regional Plan, and the plan that came before it, set out ways to reduce PM10, so our region can work towards meeting the government’s health-based guidelines. Because of the initiatives in these plans, especially those for home heating, we’re now seeing real progress across Canterbury.

Data collected shows that the government’s guideline for average daily PM10 concentrations was exceeded in our region on 130 days in 2008, compared to 45 days in 2017. Christchurch’s St Albans monitoring site has seen a particularly dramatic drop – from 54 in 1999 to just four in 2017.

We still have a way to go, but these numbers show that our communities are getting behind the push for cleaner, healthier air. We will keep working alongside households who need to upgrade their home heating to make sure they have the help they need to stay warm next winter. This will include continuing to offer subsidies to low-income households who meet certain criteria. Anyone with worries during this time of change should contact us.

Although home heating causes most of the air pollution in our towns, the Air Plan also restricts other sources too, including outdoor and industrial burning. Outdoor burning on properties under two hectares (in both urban and rural areas) is not allowed without resource consent, unless it’s for cooking. Green waste can be burnt on properties over two hectares but only if certain conditions are met. A smoke management plan is needed for any crop residue burning or for outdoor burns lasting three or more days. Special buffer zones have been created on the outskirts of Timaru and Ashburton, and properties inside those zones need a resource consent for crop residue burning.

Enjoy the water this summer

For lots of Cantabrians, and visitors to the region, these long warm summer days mean one thing – swimming. People often flock to our amazing beaches, but there are also excellent river and lake swimming spots which are not as well known. Like the beaches, conditions are not always perfect so being well informed about where to go is a great start.

This summer, we’ll be lending a hand so you can find out where’s good to swim.

We work through Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) to provide up-to-date information about water quality in our rivers, lakes and beaches to the public.

Environment Canterbury monitors around 100 swimming sites every week during summer, and we post this information online on the LAWA site just in time for the weekend.

Check online before you go, and get the inside scoop on all the best swimming spots in your local area. You can find information at lawa.org.nz/swim, and find out more about Canterbury’s water on our website at ecan.govt.nz/water. Keep an eye, too, on our ‘Canterbury water’ Facebook page for the latest updates.

Obviously good swimming isn’t just about the quality of the water – if you are in any of our rivers, make sure you know what the water is doing upstream (eg rain that could lead to high water volumes very quickly); check for any submerged logs or rocks; stay sun smart and look out for others.

Enjoy fabulous, safe swimming this summer – visit lawa.org.nz/swim.

Water dogs: keep them safe

You may have heard of blue green algae, otherwise known as cyanobacteria. This algae occurs naturally all year round, but it is more common in summer - and it can kill animals.

We monitor for it and place warnings at popular swimming spots. However, cyanobacteria can occur anywhere, at any time.

Know what to look for: Avoid contact with water that is cloudy, discoloured, or musty smelling, or if it has small globules, a coloured scum, or thick, slimy dark brown or black mats on the riverbed.

Sounds disgusting, but for some reason some dogs love it! Keep them safe – if in doubt, keep them out.

Identify yourself

All boats in Canterbury need an identifying name or number displayed on both sides.

This could be a large sticker printed by a sign shop, or painted on. It needs to be a contrasting colour to the boat, letters/numbers at least 90 millimetres high, above the waterline on the hull, and visible from 50 metres away.

The name or number could be your boat’s trailer registration number, radio call sign, Maritime New Zealand registration number or sporting organisation number. Non-powered vessels under six metres long – like paddleboards and kayaks – only need the owner’s name and contact details written somewhere on board with a marker pen.

Read the boat safety rules in full: ecan.govt.nz/bylaw

Correct identification demonstrated

Meet the locals

Who lives here? Canterbury is home to some 600,000 locals according to StatisticsNZ’s June 2016 estimate. Our population has a higher median age than New Zealand as a whole; we have one of the highest car ownership rates in the country; and Selwyn and Waimakariri districts in particular are growing rapidly.

Where's good to swim today?

Look out for our summer swimming spot information campaign this summer. Visit www.lawa.org.nz to find out where’s good to swim each week.

What’s on in the region

If you think digging for treasure on the beach is just for pirates, think again! The annual Big Dig is back on Wednesday 27th December at Leithfield Beach and everyone is invited.
Big Dig is back on Wednesday 27th December

The Lions Club of Amberley District puts on this day out for all the family, with a toddlers’ pool, playground, bouncy castle and ice creams for the littlies and coffee, a sausage sizzle and plenty of picnic space for the grownups.

Treasure hunters aged 3-13 can purchase a $4 ticket to dig for a numbered ‘gold coin’, with each coin redeemable for the corresponding prize. Sponsorship from Ryco 24.7 makes this day possible, plus support from Arthur Burkes of Amberley, Streets Ice Cream, and Four Square Amberley. Any proceeds go to the Lions Club local projects

Bring your toy spade and plenty of sunscreen and follow the signs to ‘Big Kev’s Big Dig’. Find ‘Leithfield Beach BIG DIG’ on Facebook for more information.

Kevin Fenemor (left) and Tony McKendry are the two Amberley Lions Club members responsible for bringing about the Big Dig each year (see What’s On).

Kev and his wife Gail have been owners of the Leithfield Beach motor camp for six years, and stalwart guardians of the beach, encouraging families from far and wide to visit for the Big Dig to enjoy this beautiful piece of Canterbury coastline. Project secretary Tony works with Kevin on this project, raising funds for local youth initiatives.

Best-in-Fair award for Timaru student

Living in Timaru, Nicole was motivated to focus her project on dry wood, air pollution and the correlation between the two.

Starting an impressive 18 months before the 2017 science fair, Nicole’s detailed investigation found that soft wood needs to be dried for 10-12 months while harder wood needs 14-16 months drying time - important information for burning cleaner using dry wood. Her investigation earned her the Best-in-Fair Award.

Nicole Arundell, shown here with her prize-winning investigation for the Sanford Science and Technology Fair in Timaru, is a year 10 student at Craighead Diocesan School.

The Long-Term Plan is coming…

You may have seen information already about the Long-Term Plan for Environment Canterbury. If you are paying rates in Canterbury then you are contributing to the work outlined in the plan. In March the Long-Term Plan 2018-28 will be available for community comment and input.

You will also see the Long-Term Plan for your local council (eg Mackenzie District Council) depending on where you live. The two plans cover different work so it is good to engage with both. Look out for information in your letterbox and online.

Answering your feedback

This publication – Living Here – has been out for a year in its current format, and over that time we have received lots of feedback. While the majority has been positive, some people have fed back that it doesn’t go into enough detail or that it must be expensive.

We have opted to keep Living Here as a quick, light read, with more in-depth information located on our website www.ecan.govt.nz for those who would like more detail. Read previous versions of Living Here.

The publication is printed on paper from renewable forestry sources, and the cost per copy is approximately 25c (or around 75c per household per year). As we don’t hold a database of all rate payers (your rates invoice from ECan arrives via your local council) we have to distribute to all households via a distribution network.

If you’d rather not receive it, you will need to have ‘addressed mail only’ on your letter box - but we hope you will want to take the chance to keep finding out about what is going on in the region.

Join the conversation with Environment Canterbury. Follow activity, post comments or contact our Customer Services team 0800 EC INFO or 0800 324 636

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