Take a walk on the wild side
Working with Mount Aspiring College (MAC) and community partners, this initiative assesses whether the Wānaka lakefront development project meets its goals to ‘restore and develop ecology through ecological enhancements’ and to ‘improve land use within the lakefront’ by measuring the impact of the development on biodiversity, water quality and community values.
Funded by Otago Museum’s Participatory Science Programme
What has happened so far?
Scroll down to take a journey backwards through time.
Lakefront Community Survey
A group of students from Holy Family Catholic School recently helped run a survey in town to find out how the community feels about the recent changes to the lakefront along the boardwalk area.
Together with our education support Jaylene, they presented their findings to the Queenstown Lakes District Council in a meeting early July 2022.
Casey is volunteering to help WAI Wānaka with this project. She’s conducting macroinvertebrate surveys and measuring pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature in the littoral zone around the new plantings. She’s also helping to keep an eye on our temperature data loggers that are positioned around the larger waterways that are flowing into Roys Bay which are helping to build a picture for NIWA’s hydrodynamic observation study.
Explorers on a path to discovery
Most Thursday mornings, the Wānaka Preschool ‘Explorers’ head to Wānaka Station Park to undertake some outdoor learning. Recently they decided to shake it up a bit and have made connections with Te Kākano Nursery and WAI Wānaka.
On the last Thursday of March the Explorers met with Jose Cranfield, WAI Wānaka’s Education and Outreach Coordinator for some exploring on the lake’s edge. Venturing along the new walkway towards the marina they were the first to check on the recently installed spider houses (see below entry for more info). After only four weeks, they are still establishing their spider families.
Back at the edge of lake Wānaka and the outflow of Bullock Creek, the Explorers joined Jose in testing the purity of the water. They did this through some macroinvertebrate monitoring which involved scooping water and small river debris into a tray with a net and observing the tiny aquatic life in it. They found swimming mayflies and chironomid midges. They learned that their presence indicates that the water is really clean. Great morning out with an excited group of small explorers!
Incy wincy spider…
In Feb 2022, MAC team green and yr 12 biology students had the opportunity to add to this research by partnering with James Crofts-Bennett, an Arachnologist (spider expert) from Otago University. The students gained some interesting knowledge about our creepy crawly friends, including the fact that spiders can not only fly using atmospheric electricity, but reach a height of up to 4kms above the earths surface using a technique called ‘ballooning’. They then finished setting up spider houses built by the Wānaka Community Workshop and investigated what sorts of bugs can be found along the new board walk area. Click here to see what we found.
The students enhanced the spider houses with some wire loops, sticks and stones and vegetation to add structural complexity to make them attractive to spiders. They were then placed in amongst the vegetation and will be monitored monthly to establish which species are present in the area and how this is changing over time. Community groups are invited to take part in this research. If you see the houses, please do not touch or open them as this upsets the research data. If you would like to join this study, please sign up as a volunteer.
There’s something in the water
On the same day as the visit from ‘spider man’, WAI Wānaka ran a water monitoring workshop with the students, identifying macroinvertebrates and testing water clarity, conductivity, temperature and pH, adding to the ongoing water quality data being collected by volunteers.
Following the opening of the boardwalk in 2021, the MAC year 11 Te Reo Māori class were involved in regular water monitoring at this same site. This monitoring is continuing throughout 2022 with the help of volunteers from the local community.
First steps – baseline measurements
At the end of 2020, before the QLDC boardwalk development began, MAC year 10 camp and WAI Wānaka summer interns collected data on terrestrial invertebrates, benthic macroinvertebrates and physio chemical properties of the water from lakefront sites in the area between Bullock Creek and the Wānaka marina. Read more about the collaboration here. This data, along with a community connection survey, forms a baseline for future measurements.