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All hail Queen Elizabeth Park!, as 60th Jubilee celebrations kick off for this gem on the Kāpiti Coast with a guided walk delving into the park’s rich heritage.
The Jubilee Walk at Queen Elizabeth Park, on 19 January, will take in the Yankee Trail – a route taken by US soldiers stationed in the area between 1942 and 1943 – and Te Ara o Tipapa (The Wetland Walk), which crosses wetlands, dunes and the only remaining piece of kahikatea forest on the Kāpiti Coast. The walk is free and open to everyone.
Named after Queen Elizabeth II and opened as the region’s first major park during the Royal Visit of 1953, Queen Elizabeth Park has the highest visitor numbers of any park in the regional park network.
“We’re so lucky to have this beautiful landscape right on our back doorstep,” says Nigel Wilson, the Regional Council’s Kāpiti Councillor and Chair of the Social and Cultural Wellbeing Committee. “The park contains precious ecological and geological remnants that provide a glimpse of Kāpiti Coast before human habitation, and is much-loved by the local and regional community. On any weekend you’ll see walkers, cyclists, equestrians, swimmers and picnickers, all enjoying the wonderfully varied natural environment.”
Cr Wilson says that community volunteers play a crucial role as advocates for the park and have put in what at times can be described as herculean efforts toward the park’s restoration.
“A prime example is the Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park who, along with the Regional Council, have planted over 200,000 native plants in key sites over the last nine years. Their superb work was recognised last year with an Encore Award for Fostering Community Partnerships, from the Regional Council, Department of Conservation and the Wellington Hawke's Bay Conservation Board.”
The Friends will join the Regional Council and local schools at the main Jubilee event – an Arbor Day planting on 6 June. The Regional Council will also partner with other community groups for events throughout the Jubilee.
Other events in Queen Elizabeth Park up until March 2013:
Background information on Queen Elizabeth Park:
The history contained in the park goes right back to geological time with examples still in evidence of gravel deposits from about 1.8 million years, in the Pleistocene age. The park’s dunes date from about 6,000 years ago. Māori lived in the area for hundreds of years, attracted to the coastal setting and plentiful food. In World War II the site hosted 20,000 US soldiers from June 1942 to November 1943. During the 1950s and 60s, recreational facilities were developed such as the Tramway Museum and a motorcamp.
The Wellington Regional Council took over management in 1990, with the past few decades seeing an increase in tracks for walker and cyclists, and extensive ecological restoration through council-community partnerships. The park had over 297,000 visitors from June 2011 to July 2012.