Wellington Scoop

New regional park on Watts Peninsula above Shelly Bay

Mayor Justin Lester has been quoted today as saying that an announcement of a regional park above Shelly Bay is just months away.

According to a DomPost report by Tom Hunt, the mayor said Watts Peninsula will become a massive regional park including a likely sculpture park, walking and mountain bike tracks.

The park, on Crown land currently administered by Linz, will cover 72.7 hectares north of the former Mt Crawford prison.

According to the DomPost report, the mayor said the “recreation park and reserve” would be created and jointly managed by the Department of Conservation (Doc) and the city council. The council would provide an initial $2m to upgrade the area, and would then allocate $750,000 a year to manage it.

Former mayor Celia Wade-Brown said on Facebook “the Council was ready years ago but it seems to have taken a change of central government to make it happen, despite Chris Finlayson’s early support. There’s Plimmer bequest money set aside in WCC budget and I’m sure philanthropy and active support will be very welcome. So exciting that Predator Free Wellington Will have such a great opportunity for birds, lizards and invertebrates to flourish in the capital.”


  1. Trevor H, 22. April 2019, 19:48

    The Council finally gets something right. The Peninsula is a place of special historical and ecological interest.

  2. Chris Horne, 22. April 2019, 20:31

    This extremely welcome statement has been long awaited. The entire Watts Peninsula, including Corrections Department land, and all the way north to Kai Tawaro / Point Halswell, including the slopes above Shelly Bay Road, should be included in the park.

    The land-form of a flight of six raised marine terraces, dominated by Matai-Moana / Mt Crawford 163 m, with the sites of former pa, Russian-scare-era forts, ten ammunition magazines, a WW2 anti-aircraft battery site, Massey Memorial, and regenerating native plant, bird and invertebrate communities, all on a dramatic headland thrusting into Te Whanganui a Tara / Wellington Harbour, will be a wonderful addition to our network of parks.

  3. Justin Lester, 23. April 2019, 21:28

    At 75 hectares the park will be one of Wellington’s largest and will tell the stories of the area’s unique Māori and military heritage, incorporate tracks and recreation amenities. [via twitter]

  4. Russell Tregonning, 24. April 2019, 10:18

    Great news. A native tree park there has the potential to rival world-famous Stanley Park in Vancouver — the geographical similarities of the two peninsulas readily accessible from the cbd is striking.

  5. BHS, 24. April 2019, 12:07

    Russell – well said about Stanley Park in Vancouver. However as part of a Continental rather than Island country, Vancouver doesn’t have the same hang-ups about native and exotic trees as Aotearoa. Stanley Park has lots of exotics and I hope, the park in NZ will also provide a home to a wide range of trees from wherever.

  6. Chris Horne, 24. April 2019, 14:50

    Dear BHS: I believe that it would be inappropriate to plant any exotic trees, shrubs, climbers, ferns, or ground-cover species on Watts Peninsula. NZ’s indigenous ecosystems, and their supporting landscapes, are plagued with invasive introduced species which have become weeds. Introduced plants may take decades of “dwell-time” before becoming weedy, invasive and expensive, if not impossible, to eradicate.

    Watts Peninsula already has developing communities of native trees, shrubs, climbers, ferns and ground-cover species. We can encourage these native species to spread by intensive control of weed species and pest animals. Let’s not plant exotics on Watts Peninsula to avoid creating future problems, and detracting from the headland’s natural values.

  7. Helen S, 24. April 2019, 16:06

    You are so right Chris Horne. NZ must only plant 100% natives fron now on such as Pohutakauri Norfolk pines and Macrocarpa in sandy environments. These will be unpopular with rodents too and great for our endangered godwits.

  8. Joise Talofi, 25. April 2019, 6:43

    So are you doing a park in order to sweeten the Shelly Bay development, much like a bribe?

  9. Ian Apperley, 25. April 2019, 9:57

    It’s worth noting that this was actually announced back in 2011…


  10. Harry M, 25. April 2019, 13:09

    Shelly Bay has mIlitary history so a fight over the question of who has lawful ownership is very fitting.
    It should all be public reserve.

  11. Maxo, 25. April 2019, 21:02

    A regional park is a great idea, plus all the extras Chris Horne and Harry M. It’s a shame all the Shelly Bay timber buildings have been left to rot. Keep what we can, develop the wharf as a marina and dive center. A stylish apartment/hotel/upmarket/restaurant within a slick curvaceous white shell, designed by a modern architect would look good. Listen to Sir Peter Jackson. He has restored beautiful Wgtn buildings. If you want to know what Cassells really has in store for you, check what he has built around Erskine College and the unforgivable crowding out of Futuna Chapel in Karori designed by NZ’s pre-eminent Maori architect John Scott.

  12. Glen Smith, 26. April 2019, 8:36

    Congratulations to the council and new government on the announcement that this stunning headland will be conserved in perpetuity as a new Regional Park for the people of Wellington. A public debate should now be progressed on what we do with this area. The emphasis should be green open space with preservation of historic sites. But the area is large enough to accommodate a number of recreational activities that currently either don’t exist or require climate change inducing fossil fuel trips to reach. Given stretched public funding, these could generate some revenue for park maintenance while retaining its open space character. Options that come to mind are: adrenaline forest (nearest Porirua), farm park (nearest Staglands), horse trekking (nearest Ohariu Valley), summer pool in open green surrounds (nearest Wainuiomata), bungy jumping, fly by wire, kayaking around the coast, mountain biking (already exists),…?luge down the hill?(hmmm- perhaps a bridge too far).
    This planning should be for the area in its entirety and should prompt a rethink of Shelly Bay plans while recognising this is private land which the owners have a right to develop (within strict guidelines) for a return.
    The area requires transport (ferry and bus – car parking should be severely limited) and support services (eateries, activity offices etc). Shelly Bay is the obvious choice. But development that only supports outdoor activities can have a vacant ‘Disneyland’ feel at night time, during bad weather etc. And regular PT requires a consistent passenger base.
    A resident population would solve this. But this is likely to be a select wealthy group rather than a cross section of society and will taint the area as a rich enclave.
    The alternative is to develop non weather dependant but revenue generating attractions / activities. Options that spring to mind are a movie museum (requiring a truce), sea aquarium and art centre. I’m sure imaginative minds could come up with many more. I foresee an interesting debate.

  13. Anabel, 26. April 2019, 10:17

    Actually nature (without the Disneyland/profiteering) is used in other countries to heal and boost mental wellness. In Japan and Korea, walking and being in nature is now scientifically recognized as beneficial for humans’ mental health. Forest bathing or just being in nature – reconnecting – can help to combat some of the the urban stresses.

  14. Wendy, 26. April 2019, 12:03

    @ Annabel: Absolutely agree with you and for that reason alone we are in urgent need of more green parks in the city as there are many more high-rise apartment developments going up. Take Victoria/Dixon Streets as an example (3 x 17 storey apartment building complex by Statum, 19 storey Willis & Bond development, 20 storey Arrow development in Dixon Street, with possibly one more across the road?). Apart from a small square of green behind one of the buildings, there is no green space around that area to service the needs of the 2500+ people who will soon be living there

    Wellington is well served with its green belt, but green parks/spaces down in the city close to residential areas where they can be accessed quickly and without difficulty are vital for mental health and well-being of the residents. According to the United Nations ‘New Urban Agenda’ one aim for governments should be to “prioritize safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces”