10 May 2017

A massive volunteer effort to restore native bush on the fire-ravaged Port Hills is about to get under way.

About 7200 plants are being delivered and sorted in preparation for Port Hills Restoration Planting Days to be held on 12 dates over the next four months.

The first of these replanting days is Thursday, May 25 but the number of volunteers for each one is limited to 80. Many of the days are already fully subscribed with only a few places left. 

Native plants are being sorted in preparation for a massive volunteer planting effort on Christchurch's Port Hills.

Christchurch City Council Port Hills Ranger Di Carter says the overwhelming response from the public has been “absolutely fantastic”.

People really want to be part of the rejuvenation of the Port Hills, she says, but maintaining that enthusiasm long-term is very important.

“This is just the beginning of the fire recovery process. It’s ongoing and we really need more volunteers to come back and maintain the plants in the spring and autumn, and to support further plantings next winter.

"It’s actually the maintenance that’s the most critical part of the plants’ survival.”

She encourages people to check the Christchurch City Council website regularly for updates on volunteer days. 

For the next 12 post-fire Port Hills restoration planting events, volunteers can register on Eventfinda to reserve a seat on free buses that will take them to planting sites thanks to the support of Environment Canterbury. There is no parking available at the sites.

The meeting point for the bus is at Princess Margaret Hospital at 8.45am for morning events and 12.15pm for afternoon events.

The most suitable sites and planting days for families are Mt Ada on June 10 and August 5, and Marleys Hill on June 24. At the Kennedys Bush site there is a ten minute down-hill walk into the planting site and a 15 minute uphill walk back out so a reasonable level of fitness is recommended. 

Volunteers should be prepared for all weather including bringing a sun hat or woolly hat, sturdy boots, gloves and a clearly named spade if possible, although some will be provided.

Key plants for the restoration include whauwhaupaku/five finger (Pseudopanax arboreus), karamū (Coprosma robusta and Coprosma lucida), kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifolium), kapuka (Griselinia littoralis), ti kōuka/cabbage tree (Cordyline australis), koromiko (Hebe salicifolia and Hebe strictissima).

Postponement notices will be posted on the Christchurch City Council website by 3pm the day before an event.