Waipara River Waipara River Manage

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Wash Creek to Webbs Road

The riverbed throughout this area is wide although constrained on either side by large steep cliffs formed where the river has cut through the underlying sediments. The lower gorge at Teviotdale is rich in fossils and is recognised as a Significant Natural Area (G30) in the Hurunui District Plan.

The Double Corner shell beds, as these fossil beds are referred to, occur on either side of the lower Waipara River gorge, at the area known as the ‘Horse-shoe’(a deep meandering loop) about three kilometres upstream from Greenwoods Bridge. The name Double Corner was adopted for the sheep station which during the later part of the 19th century covered most of the country between the Waipara and Kowai Rivers.

The fossil beds consist of fine brown sands and are rich in shell fossils, mostly molluscs. These fossils date back to the Miocene Epoch and are about twelve million years old. The shell beds consist of several different levels, each of which contains a variety of shells. When these beds are examined closely it can be seen that the sequence of the levels is repeated. This is because a ‘fault’ or break in the rocks runs across the river in this area. Movement along the fault has caused the rock containing the various shell beds to slide up and over each other so that the areas which were originally lying side by side have moved so that they now lie one on top of the other.

One of the more interesting fossil beds consists of thousands of tiny bivalve shells of the species Turia. Many of the Turia shells have tiny holes which were made by carnivorous, snail-like molluscs that bored through the shell of the living Turia eating the animal inside.

There are two public access points to the Waipara River in this area. These are located at the end of Webbs Road and the northern side of Greenwoods (Teviotdale) Bridge on Double Corner Road. The river can be accessed both upstream and downstream of Greenwoods Bridge. There is a large area directly upstream of the bridge where vehicles can turn around and park. The area around Greenwoods Bridge is a popular camping and picnicking spot with a number of good swimming holes in the vicinity.

This section of the river is one of the most frequently trafficked areas and is criss-crossed with a number of vehicle tracks. The Horse-shoe area is very popular with motorbikes and ATVs. One of the main concerns raised by the community is the noise generated from these activities and also the anti-social behaviour associated with vehicle use in this area, such as dumping of rubbish and car bodies and vandalism of fences and structures on adjoining properties.

With respect to land ownership the majority of land on both the south and north banks are subject to AMF rights and as such is effectively in private ownership. In the past, adjoining landowners have attempted to keep the public out of this area but this has proved to be a futile exercise with gates and fences being constantly removed and damaged. Given these frustrations, some of the adjoining landowners are prepared to allow the public to use this area for recreational activities provided that their private property is respected. However, this situation could change if the public continues to abuse this privilege through inappropriate and antisocial behaviour.