Letters : Sawcut Gorge access

Amazing nature: The three hour return tramp is well worth the effort to see the spectacular Sawcut Gorge in the Isolated Hill Scenic Reserve
Amazing nature: The three hour return tramp is well worth the effort to see the spectacular Sawcut Gorge in the Isolated Hill Scenic Reserve

Sawcut Gorge access

Regarding the article about Sawcut Gorge, ["Nature's wonder a walk away", Marlborough Midweek, February 13] DOC South Marlborough community relations ranger Clare Duston should get her facts right before she sends the public off to roam about the countryside.

The top of Benmore is not DOC land. It is privately owned property and as such Ms Duston does not have the right to suggest people can go there without the owner's permission.

Ms Duston makes no mention of the fact that the parking area described is on private land owned by Dave and Lauren Buick. There is no right of access; the Buicks willingly share their property and the area immediately outside their house with the public.

They get 40 to 70 cars a day visiting and about 2000 people a year traipsing past their house. Cars park on the lawn, gates get left open, rubbish gets left about, while visitors intrude upon the Buicks' garden and private space believing it is DOC land and they have a right to be there.

They also get to meet many lovely people from all over the world, who appreciate their generosity.

Without the Buicks' granting access at least another two hours would be added to the walk, putting it beyond the capability of many.

And they get not a word of thanks from DOC or compensation for road upkeep. As this article shows, DOC regards private property owners with disdain.

Clare Duston needs to rethink her job description. I think an apology is in order.


Ure Valley

Department of Conservation South Marlborough area manager, David Hayes, responds :

I agree, clarification is needed. The summit of Benmore is close to the boundary of DOC land and private land, but it is definitely public land.

Walkers are welcome to enjoy the natural beauty of the walk that leads to the summit of Benmore (a marked track is provided) but, as is true with all conservation land, they should not cross on to the private land.

The parking area for Sawcut Gorge is on private land and is clearly acknowledged as such on-site, on our website and brochures. Members of the public should absolutely be respectful of the privacy of the residents there, who kindly allow visitors to park on their property.

The sole intention of Clare's article was to share the wonder of one of Marlborough's most beautiful walks.

For the record, I think Clare is doing a fantastic job in her role as community relations ranger and encouraging people to enjoy their special conservation areas.

Query on park

It appears Liz Davidson Park is not the success it was mooted as being, all for only $500,000.

Last week on two occasions I sat in the car park for approximately half an hour at what should be peak time - 11.45am to 12.15pm. Maximum occupancy on Thursday was three people and on Friday four people. I did overhear passersby comments on the lack of cleanliness of the toilets.

Liz, how about you drum up some support for the park? If it was a business, at this rate of support it would be bankrupt by now.

And while we are at it, how about doing something about the cleaning? It appears from remarks it would be a step in the right direction.



Careless pedestrians

As a driver I am becoming more and more concerned that pedestrians are getting confused about when to cross the road. People are walking straight out on to the pedestrian crossings in Blenheim, especially from Countdown to the library, without even looking for oncoming cars.

I stopped to ask one woman why she didn't look and got the answer that it was my job to stop for her as she was on the crossing.

She had absolutely no idea what the white diamond up the road meant - none at all.

I asked around and it seems hardly anyone knows that the diamond on the road marks the safe distance for a car to stop for the pedestrian crossing. One kid thought it was decoration.

That "decoration" means a car is required to stop for pedestrians if it is outside the diamond and the pedestrian is waiting at the crossing. If the car is inside the diamond mark, it is required to stop only if it is safe to do so - the pedestrian is required to let the car go first.

Walking out in front of a car two metres from the crossing will get you killed and you will be at fault - not the driver.

Please remember that you are flesh and bones and cars are metal and if you connect with one, it's you that will break first. That diamond is there for a reason and look for traffic - both ways, please.



MP's expenses

The writer asks a fair question and I shall attempt to answer it [letters, Express, February 21].

I use Air New Zealand to travel down to the south of the Kaikoura electorate and that can cost as much as $360 each way. The alternative is to drive down, which can take 3 to 4 hours each way, leaving less time to meet with constituents.

From Christchurch I hire a Toyota Camry rental car, which costs approximately $150 a day. I used to stay at the Sudima when in Christchurch, but because of rising prices ($230 a night) I have had to look at alternative options and no longer stay there.

Sometimes I am fortunate enough to stay with family. I have also been using less expensive options for accommodation. If I am in North Canterbury for the night, I now stay at an Amberley motel at a much reduced rate.

What I am pleased to report to the writer is that the number of constituents I have been able to assist is greater now than it has even been.


National MP for Kaikoura


The Marlborough Express