Feedback sought for Signal Hill management plan

The view from the Signal Hill lookout above Dunedin could be one of several in the area worth...
The view from the Signal Hill lookout above Dunedin could be one of several in the area worth protecting, a draft management plan suggests. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Protecting the view and re-establishing native vegetation could be prioritised in the next plan for managing a popular Dunedin recreation reserve.

Signal Hill is a well-used area for mountainbiking, walking, trail running and walking with dogs northeast of the city centre, and the public is to be asked for feedback on a draft plan for its management.

A statement of proposal approved last week for public consultation noted the area included large areas of indigenous bush mixed with weeds, such as gorse.

The northwestern faces of the reserve were also susceptible to fire, causing concern for nearby property owners.

A report for the Dunedin City Council’s strategy, planning and engagement committee said a fire plan would be needed.

The mix of vegetation also required consideration.

"There will be a focus on habitat restoration and the re-establishment of native vegetation within the reserve, including the managed removal of noxious pest species", the council report said of the draft plan.

The draft plan did not include further planting of exotic trees within the reserve.

Signal Hill was described in the statement of proposal as being a nationally recognised place for mountainbiking, and it was stated the Centennial Memorial offered panoramic views from the top of the reserve.

There are more than 20 mountainbiking tracks within the reserve.

It was proposed ideas for more bike and pedestrian tracks be "developed as appropriate" and shown within a reserve master plan.

However, "limit the spread of mountainbike tracks beyond the current location to enable and support other recreation activities" was listed among opportunities.

Other opportunities included identifying areas for furniture to encourage visitors to stop and enjoy the views, and the potential for linkages to suburbs.

"The new plan aims to better honour the site’s recreational, biodiversity, cultural and mana whenua values to help it receive the care and attention it requires", the proposal statement said.

Wilding pines threatened the view in places and there were particular areas where care should be taken with any planting to ensure views were maintained.

"We also want to honour the cultural and mana whenua values through interpretation and storytelling projects."

The existing management plan dates back to 2003 and a review started in 2020, but was disrupted by Covid-19 and council staff changes.

Committee chairwoman Cr Sophie Barker said Signal Hill was a special part of the city and it was a resource for everyone, including visitors.

The public submissions period runs from May 13 until July 15.