Lakeside poplars to be examined

An arborist is assessing dozens of 100-year-old trees in a lakeside park in Queenstown after high winds toppled a poplar on to cars and a motel.

A Lombardy poplar was felled by high winds on Friday about 7pm, crushing a car parked in Lake Esplanade, damaging other vehicles and destroying a corner of the Lakeside Motel.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday said a full risk assessment of all the heritage poplars in St Omer Park was being done by Auckland-based arborist Samuel Earp, of Greenscene NZ.

The survey started yesterday and was expected to finish today after trees were checked using a resistograph, a tool that drills a small hole to measure the density of wood and gain an internal view of the trunk or roots. The extent of any decay will be assessed.

Council parks manager Mike Weaver said he expected to receive Mr Earp's report within days. It would be used to make decisions about the future of other trees in St Omer Park.

A rotting poplar was removed in 2005 and the remaining 23 trees - now 22 after Friday's incident - were assessed in 2007.

Despite the damage it did, no-one was injured when the tree - at least 25 metres tall - crashed on to Lake Esplanade.

The road was closed for almost three hours and led to gridlock for any traffic exiting Queenstown toward Fernhill and Glenorchy and any inbound traffic in Fernhill Rd and the Glenorchy Rd at the One Mile roundabout.

Police, fire service volunteers and Asplundh arborists worked as quickly as possible to clear the road on a busy Friday night.


The Southland Times