Grant wildlife status to the lagoons
Marlborough's wine and food culture and climate are well known as its biggest draw cards, but the Wairau Lagoons could also be major attractions, say Driftwood Ecotours operators Will and Rose Parsons.
In a submission to Marlborough District Council draft annual plan, the couple have called for the creation of wildlife sanctuary status for the lower Opawa River and adjacent wastewater treatment ponds.
"The southern Wairau Lagoon was once denoted as a wildlife sanctuary but this has lapsed over time. This proposal would go some way to reinstating an area where wildlife is given protection," Mr Parsons said.
Work is being done by the council at the lagoons as part of the upgrade of the Blenheim sewerage system, and the Parsons believed this is the perfect time to develop the idea of a wildlife sanctuary.
They made a similar submission seven years ago after spotting the endangered New Zealand fernbird at the lagoons.
"We wanted to protect the birds and of course their environment, too, but unfortunately nothing came of our submission then."
The submission for wildlife sanctuary status, he said, was just the first step towards what he believed could become a key attraction for visitors to Marlborough.
The wetland environment is home to myriad bird and fish species as well as being the earliest known area in the country to be settled by humans, he said.
"There is an opportunity to showcase Marlborough as the epicentre of New Zealand historically, and show off the amazing wetlands," Mr Parsons said.
The couple have been taking guided kayak tours into the lagoons since 2004, with both New Zealand and overseas clients.
"Many of the people we take out have very meaningful experiences. It's a very special and unique place.
"This idea isn't about us and we can't do it alone. We need the council to come on board and for others to buy into it."
If the submission went ahead he the couple would like to see the formation of an oversight body or trust, and have proposed the name Friends of the Lower Opawa Wairau (Flow).
The Marlborough Express