Golf club reopens after storm damage

CLEAN UP: McLeans Island recreational area was severely damaged after high winds knocked over trees throughout the reserve.
CLEAN UP: McLeans Island recreational area was severely damaged after high winds knocked over trees throughout the reserve.

A popular Christchurch recreational area could be closed for months because of extensive damage in last month's windstorm.

Lines companies and foresters said the September 10 storm was the strongest in 40 years, with winds of more than 200kmh recorded at the top of Mt Hutt.

Parts of McLeans Island Forest Park, popular with mountain bikers, could be closed for months due to "fallen and dangerous" trees over much of the walking and cycling trails.

An Environment Canterbury (ECan) spokeswoman said the damage was still being assessed.

Some parts were planned to be reopened by Saturday, but a post on the ECan website stated there was a "a huge amount of work to complete" before it could reopen and asked people to stay away to avoid disrupting the work.

Canterbury Mountain Bike Club treasurer Dean Attwood said the park was "very popular" with children and beginners.

"I imagine new riders and that will be very impacted [by the closure]. There is Bottle Lake, but that is a wee bit more technical."

A multi-race event to be held at the park on October 19 was still scheduled to go ahead, despite the big clean-up job ahead.

Race director Rod Hibberd said the area used for the annual 12-hour day/nighter and 6-hour blast events suffered the least amount of damage in the storm and ECan was working hard to clear fallen trees.

"I will need to make some changes to the course that we use but nothing too major," he wrote on the event's website.

Meanwhile, the McLeans Island Golf Club has reopened after extensive damage caused in last month's windstorm forced it to close.

Club members volunteered hundreds of hours to help clean-up and reopen the course as quickly as possible, club secretary manager Peter Bentley said.

The course reopened on Friday, but had it not been for members, it would have taken a lot longer, he said.

"The volunteers probably put in 600 man hours in total . . . If we had to rely on the two green staff it would've been a long haul," Bentley said.

"They've done a great job."

But even with all the help, it was "no small feat", due to the number of large trees that had come down, he said.

About 90 per cent of the course had been cleared.

As a result, a few "challenges" remained on the course which would have to be "played around", Bentley said.

Two holes remained closed as they were close to unstable trees, he said.

"But we have put in temporary holes on what was our practice area to keep the course up and running."

Bentley believed it would be "at least" a couple more months before the course would return to normal.

The Press