Far North District Council is investigating options for a designated off-leash dog park in Kerikeri. Photo / file
Far North dog owners have given a big “paws down” to the site of a new designated dog park because it’s not central enough for retirees.
Far North District Council is investigating options for the
off-leash dog park in Kerikeri and is seeking feedback on a proposed site on a council reserve at the end of Waitotara Drive in Waipapa near SH10.
But dog advocates say the site is too far away from the centre of town, where hundreds of retirees live in various retirement villages, rest homes, and gated communities.
Bay of Islands Watchdogs group spokeswoman Leonie Exel said she was pleased something was finally in the pipeline after years of waiting for a dog park.
Exel said she can’t say if she supports the proposal yet, as there aren’t enough details.
But she will be talking with the group’s 1700 members to “find out what the people who would use it think”.
With Kerikeri being such a retirement hub, they need to consider retirees and other people on low or fixed incomes, she said.
“It’s great they’ve moved on it at all, but they need to do their homework to make sure we don’t just bung a dog park anywhere.
“Dog parks are important, but they need to consider retirees who walk their dogs.
“Rolands Wood is good, but people have to drive to get there, that limits it to those who have enough money to drive somewhere else.”
Exel said residents needed more information, such as a proposal document and the reasons why they chose the Waipapa site over others that were strongly supported by local dog owners.
She also wondered why the council has included a developed wetland, which would be home to native birds, in the middle of an off-leash area for large dogs.
There is currently $72,000 budgeted for the park from the 2021/31 Long Term Plan.
Of the council’s 236 reserves within 10km of Kerikeri township, Waitotara Drive stood out as the most suitable in land area, terrain and location, the council said.
Option 1 – estimated to cost around $130,000 – covers minimum requirements such as pathways, seating, and separate areas for small and large dogs as well as a mixed-size dog area.
There would also be a developed wetland and dog waste bins.
Option 2 – the cost of which will be dependent on the survey results – includes extras seen in popular dog parks across the country such as an agility area, dog wash station, board walk, shaded areas, and drinking fountains for dogs and their owners.
This would need community volunteer support because “the funding allocated to this project would not cover the extras in the second option”.
Kerikeri dog enthusiast AnnMaree Mills, who has been lobbying for a central Kerikeri dog park for 20 years, said the proposed site “was a no”.
“There’s birdlife on that river, we haven’t been able to find any information about consultation with DoC or anything about bird life and restrictions.
“There’s a lot of growth of retirement villages and gated communities … retirees don’t want to drive to Waipapa, especially with the cost of running vehicles.”
A better option would be a council reserve on Aranga Rd, which Mills has had plans drawn up for.
“It has the option of being the only secure dog park in town, and already has existing footpaths and carparking,” she said.
Council infrastructure and asset general manager Andy Finch said the survey was the “first phase” of consulting with the public about the park.
It is not envisaged that any work would start before October 2023.
“Following the conclusion of the survey, responses will be analysed to determine if there is support (or not) for a park in this location,” Finch said.
“If the proposal is supported by the community, the site will require a resource consent to proceed.”
Currently, the only off-leash areas in the Far North are Roland’s Wood on Inlet Rd, Kerikeri, at Sammaree Place Reserve also in Kerikeri, and at the Old Landfill at Lindvart Park in Kaikohe.
Far North Deputy Mayor Kelly Stratford said more dog parks were needed in the region and she encouraged residents to put forward suitable areas outside of Kerikeri.
“We need people that are passionate in each town to identify spaces that would be suitable for off-leash areas.
“It’s hard for council to say we need them in every town when we don’t know how every town works.”
Stratford said she was not familiar with what’s proposed and has asked for more information.
“Any dog park is awesome, but I do feel concerned it’s a lot of money and we could have got a dog park in Kerikeri and in another town for the money that’s going to be spent.
“I want to ensure that the community is supportive of this location.
“I would be more supportive of securing a dog park that’s closer to town so people don’t need to get in their cars and drive.”