The tireless volunteers who named themselves the Arrowtown Choppers have waged a years-long campaign to rid the hills above Arrowtown of wilding conifers and, where appropriate, replace them with natives. The bulk of the removal work has been done and now the focus has shifted from spraying, pulling and felling hundreds of thousands of conifers into replanting with the right trees and shrubs in the right places.
The Choppers' most ambitious plan to date is to surround Arrowtown with a corridor for native fauna that runs from Coronet Face to the top of Tobins Track. The 50m wide corridor would consist of 200,000 native beech, totara and ribbonwood and would also protect the back country from the spread of any wilding or weedy exotic species.
Arrowtown Beech Party
In spring and autumn the Choppers hold a a big community planting day, aka the Beech Party. The aim of the programme is to have native plants all the way up the first hill going up to Sawpit Gully (Bush Creek side) that connect with the existing stands of beech below Eichardts Flat. This will increase the biodiversity in Arrowtown and its surrounds.
Since the first Beech Party in 2021 hundreds of volunteers have planted 11,000 beech, totara, ribbonwood, lacebark and kowhai trees. Within the next nine months it is planned to have 6000 more natives with their roots in the ground. Further planting days are proposed for 2024/2025 and beyond to reach the project's initial target of 18,000 trees, and then keep going and surround the hills of Arrowtown with beech, totara, kowhai and ribbonwood.
The spring 2023 Arrowtown Beech Party will be on Sunday 8 October between 9am and 1pm. For more information like and follow the Arrowtown Choppers on Facebook.
Bush Creek Rejuvenation Project
The Arrowtown Choppers have been working closely with the Arrowtown Scouts and Arrowtown Primary School to plant trees on council land behind the Police Hut. The Choppers will continue to work with these groups to expand on the plantings and promote the principles of kaitiakitanga. Already the youngsters have planted 3000 olearia, coprosma and kowhai seedlings, with plans to add 1000 more this spring.
A number of crack willows have been removed from the Bush Creek River Reserve, just behind the Chinese Village toilets, to be replaced with native deciduous ribbonwood. About 3 ha of woody weeds have been mulched in the reserve, an area from the Chinese Village toilets to the pipe crossing at the start of the Bush Creek Track. In spring the Arrowtown Choppers will have this area sprayed to remove all the woody weeds and keep as a grassed area until further plantings are done.
Arrowtown Community Nursery
The plant nursery site at Tewa Banks, off Jopp Street, has been levelled and the Choppers are moving to the planning phase. The end result will be a nursery to provide 10,000 seedlings per year for community planting projects, as well as an educational hub for the school, Scouts and wider community. Funding has been secured from the ORC EcoFund ($35,000) to buy all the building materials. The Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association have contributed $4000 towards fencing.