If a soldier who fought in World War 1 was to walk up the
Soldiers' Monument track on the Otago Peninsula today, the
churned-up earth and damaged vegetation might remind him of
the battlefields of Verdun or the Somme.
However, the damage recently caused on the track was not the
work of shells and gunfire but of cattle which had apparently
escaped from nearby farmland.
It appears that some time since Anzac Day, cows pushed
through the fence dividing the path from a neighbouring
paddock. Their enthusiastic grazing along the path has turned
it into a wasteland of dirt and droppings.
Almost all the plants, including flax and other native bush,
bordering the path have been chewed. The damage was brought
to the attention of The Star by Waverley resident Wayne
Allen, who came across it while jogging on the path last
''I worked for 20 years as a professional gardener and in
that time I never saw such devastation,'' he said.
''It almost brought a tear to my eye. I feel sorry for the
people who have been planting through there,'' he said.
Mr Allen believed the churned-up path would be dangerous,
especially after heavy rain. Someone might fall and twist
their ankle, he said.
The fence dividing the track from farmland looked like it had
not been strong enough to keep out the cows and they had been
able to push through in several locations, he said.
The wayward cows theory was confirmed when a Star reporter
was sent to examine the scene. Two cows could clearly be seen
munching flax on the track, but they beat a hasty retreat
before they could be photographed.
Muddy tracks could be seen leading to several parts of the
fence where the wires were twisted and covered in clumps of
hair. It was not clear when the damage had occurred, but Mr
Allen had gone to the monument on Anzac Day and at that time
the path had been undamaged.
DCC parks manager Lisa Wheeler said contractors examined the
site on Tuesday afternoon. One cattle beast was found on the
track and had to be shooed away.
Although the cows had heavily muddied the track, it was still
in a usable condition and would not be closed, she said. A
sign would be put up warning users about the uneven surface.
The track was in a difficult location and it was likely that
helicopters would be needed to transport gravel for the
repairs. Ms Wheeler estimated the repairs would cost ''a
couple of thousand dollars''. Repairs would take place
shortly but would be weather dependent.
The plants had not been too badly damaged and most would
recover, Ms Wheeler said.
The council would be discussing the issue with the
neighbouring farmer and working with him to ensure the cows
did not get on to the track again, she said.