Rediscovering freedom: Dalmore Reserve

Dalmore Reserve has stunning views across the city towards St Clair. PHOTOS: CLARE FRASER
Dalmore Reserve has stunning views across the city towards St Clair. PHOTOS: CLARE FRASER
Living without a car during lockdown was, surprisingly, a pleasure. Somehow, my awareness expanded over the north end of Dunedin, free to see the area as a whole rather than disconnected locations separated by traffic.

And without that traffic, I actually felt like walking our city streets, enjoying the fresh air, emboldened birds and random chatty strangers.

Despite the trauma of the time, one of the things people spoke about a lot was how much they were relishing the peace.

People spoke about valuing the simple life and wanting to consume less and give nature space to breathe. They spoke about how nice it was to have the time and energy to enjoy each other and enjoy a feeling of community.

One community that seems to have nailed this already is Dalmore, with its communal gardening and conservation work.

It looks as if, when state houses were built in Allenby Ave, a spare section was left to allow access to bush on the hillside below. Part of this grassy patch has recently been converted into a productive community edibles garden.

The entrance to Dalmore Reserve.
The entrance to Dalmore Reserve.
It’s on a steep slope and the bush below is on south-facing, shady land. The story goes that it was historically part of the Santa Sabina Convent and sold by the Catholic Church to the Dunedin City Council about 10 years ago.

Keen conservationists cleared the gorse and planted native trees which are forming a young forest with a delightful small loop track.

It’s quite steep in parts, but only 500m long. You reach it by turning left after the garden and then largely following your nose. A mini wetland area has been planted with cabbage trees and flaxes. There’s a great view over the city below.

A route leads through the bush to Aquinas College below and used to be a nice short cut to town but apparently has been blocked off recently.

The loop walk takes you back to the birch trees at the start. Wood pigeons and tuis are making the most of their new bush habitat and during lockdown, even a grey warbler which are normally very secretive was spotted.

Across the road from the reserve, take a moment to see another groovy thing happening in this community — a householder has converted their front yard into a fenced forest for free-ranging, egg-laying hens. It is another great way to integrate nature and self-sustainability into the city.

 - Clare Fraser

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