With a dozen or so dogs joyfully splashing about on a puddly flat grassy paddock, Jenny Hartley and Annie Yeates pass by making their way to a nursery nestled in the trees, with Annie’s adorable sidekick Poppy – a sweet one-year-old fox terrier – in tow.
They are members of the Southern Environmental Association [SEA], a volunteer organisation working alongside Wellington City Council to rejuvenate Tawatawa Reserve.
“When I was first here 24 years ago, it was all gorse and old dumped car bodies,” recalls Jenny, of Owhiro Bay.
“This was an old rubbish tip from the 1970s, and then it was covered in gorse.
“Everything you now see on the flat has been planted by SEA volunteers over the past 20 or so years. About 15-20 hectares – we estimate there’s about 48,000 trees.”
The group plants on average 2500 trees and shrubs a year, raising the plants from seeds that are eco-sourced from within a 5km radius.
Thanks to their efforts, the Tawatawa Bush Track is covered in hardy ngaio tress, kōwhai, patē, Putaputaweta (a favourable habitat for wētā), and other plants native to the area.
The Tawatawa Bush Track circles the reserve and makes up part of the Tawatawa Reserve Loop, which joins the City to Sea Walkway.
Over the years Annie, an Island Bay resident, has been bringing her four-legged friends to the reserve to enjoy the 4ha dog park.
She walks the Tawatawa Bush Track once, sometimes twice, a day, and all she needs to do is step out onto the track behind the nursery.