Biodiversity gains at NZ resort


Biodiversity gains at NZ resort
Sean Dudley

An environmental protection and enhancement programme at one of New Zealand’s leading golf resorts has resulted in enhancements to the biodiversity of the property.

At the Millbrook resort in Queenstown, the Mill Stream, which flows through the property, has been restored to life as part of the programme.

Over the years, as farming practices changed the course of the stream and many parts of it became overgrown, wildlife largely disappeared, along with a natural wetland.

Millbrook’s owners are building a new housing development and have completed a new golf course on land to the west of the original hotel, and have committed to extensive improvements to the Mill Stream’s banks and wetlands.

The results show an improvement of the water quality in the water course, from where it enters the resort to where it leaves. Diverting the stream back to its original alignment has bought an older wetland back to life, resulting in the natural return of fish life and native birdlife.

“The catchment for Mill Stream starts at the base of Coronet Peak, runs through the Millbrook grounds for about 2.1km and makes its way into Lake Hayes,” said property and development manager Ben O’Malley. “In parts of the stream, the root balls of dozens of willow trees lining its banks were literally choking the flow.

“Over the past few years we’ve spent considerable sums clearing most of those trees out and in their place have established native riparian planting that enhances the habitat and water quality.”

Millbrook has recently started construction of a new NZ$150,000 chemical mixing and machinery wash-down facility for its large fleet of golf course and landscape vehicles. The new facility will upgrade Millbrook’s wastewater filtration to prevent polluted run-off into Mill Stream.

“As we’ve developed the surrounding land with buildings, the new Coronet Nine golf course, and a commitment to retain 95 per cent open space, we’ve taken extreme care to protect the stream from any development run-off,” said O’Malley. “We’ve put a programme in place to monitor water quality and have an ongoing maintenance programme in place for Mill Stream which will see the last remaining sections cleaned up as soon as possible.”

O’Malley said birdlife now colonising the area included pukekos, scaup, paradise and mallard ducks, shags and white herons. “Part of the land development for the enjoyment of Millbrook members and members of the public has been the establishment of 28km of walking and biking tracks through the resort, much of which follow the course of the stream and lead to the heart of the Millbrook village with its restaurants, bar, conference and golf facilities,” he said. “For members and visitors, being able to play a round of golf alongside the stream and wetlands only adds to the Millbrook experience.”

Millbrook is working towards certification by Audubon International. As part of that certification process, the resort undertakes regular water quality tests and these tests have consistently shown a reduction in nutrient and suspended solids between the stream entry point to Millbrook and its outflow to Waterfall Park.