Call for track signs to be reconsidered

Holding one of the old Gladstone Track signs next to a post for one of the planned replacements...
Holding one of the old Gladstone Track signs next to a post for one of the planned replacements is Hāwea Community Association treasurer John Taylor. PHOTO: REGAN HARRIS
Lake Hāwea community members are urging the Queenstown Lakes District Council to reconsider plans for signage along a popular track they believe would constitute "visual pollution" of the surrounding landscape.

Speaking before the Wānaka Upper Clutha Community Board (WUCCB) at a meeting last week, Hāwea Community Association treasurer John Taylor said there had been "very definite and widespread reaction" from the community towards the council’s plans for Gladstone Track.

"The posts and the proposed signage, if installed, will be a visual pollution of the significant landscape and outstanding beautiful views of our lake and mountains," Mr Taylor said.

The plan would see 41 bright-red, A4-sized signs placed on 2.4m-high wooden posts along the 6.5km track.

The signs would warn of various hazards along the trail, including loose gravel, vehicle crossings, cattle stops and sharp bends.

While the posts had been installed along the track in October, work on the project has since stalled.

Mr Taylor said the sheer number of signs included in the plan was uncalled for, and questioned the need to replace the original signs in the first place.

"The signage that existed prior to being pulled out was fit for purpose in design, height, colour and wording, advising location, names of beaches, warning of road, vehicles crossing etcetera."

Speaking later at the same meeting, board member John Wellington said the plan for Gladstone had come as "a bit of a shock".

"I’ve been involved in creating tracks for the community for 16 years and I think that this is totally over the top and unnecessary for this location."

Mr Wellington said discussions with the council were "still ongoing", including about potential plans to introduce similar signage elsewhere in the district.

"Can you imagine these all along the (Wānaka) lakefront, all the way out to Beacon Point? Because it’s going to be rolled out on all the tracks. So we do need to understand where this has come from and whether it’s really necessary."

Southern Lakes Trails Trust chief executive Janeen Wood said signage on cycle trails should be "low, below handle bars, installed on small posts or waratahs" and "keeping with the environment".

She said the trust’s work on the Lake Dunstan Trail, which followed New Zealand Cycle Trail guidelines and had been approved by the Central Otago District Council, demonstrated the importance of maintaining safety without being obtrusive.

"The challenge is too many signs make trail users ‘sign blind’."

While the fate of the signage along Gladstone Track is unclear, Mr Taylor said he hoped the council would be more transparent with their plans moving forward.