The Whakaipo Bay Recreation Reserve is one of the most stunning locations that Greening Taupo works on. This former farm is now a very significant recreation area for Taupo and the wider New Zealand community. Bordering the lake and less than 15 minutes from Taupo central, it is seen as a key area to promote recreation opportunities. It is inevitable that this landscape, with its spectacular views across Lake Taupo and entry to the W2K mountain bike trail, will become a national icon within the lands managed by DOC.
The first recorded annual planting day on the reserve was in 1988, 15 local Girl Guide leaders each bought a native tree each with their own funds to be planted west of the Whakaipo Bay Girl Guide Camp, from then on this started a tradition that the Girl Guides would be fully involved with annual tree planting at Whakaipo Bay.
The Girl Guides annually plantings have now packed the lake shore with native plants protecting the lakeshore from erosion, creating habitat for birds and providing shade for visitors to the bay increasing the enjoyment for those visiting the site.
Whakaipo Bay Recreation Reserve is a significant site, the guides involvement at the site will continue due to the history and the connection to the site, the area provides a fantastic teaching tool for the young girl guides to develop awareness of their environment and to continue on with planting at the site with the wider community.
Department of Conservation led the annual planting from 2011, Greening Taupo picked up the led from 2013. Greening Taupo has successfully continued on with the annual native tree planting at Whakaipo Bay, replanting retired gullies from grazing, to help reduce erosion and also part of a greater concept plan for Whakaipo Bay involving the community to preserve and maintain the recreation reserve.
Funding for plantings included a successful application to the Ministry for the Environment ‘Kick the CO2 Habit’ fund, funding from the two local Rotary groups, and a fencing subsidy from the Waikato Regional Council. ‘Living Legends’ was a community conservation project that ran from 2011-13 to celebrate and leave a legacy of New Zealand’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup in 2011. Whakaipo Bay was a successful applicant where 11,000 trees were planted in one of the gullies, with the site being dedicated to a King Country legend Sir Colin Meads. The project was a partnership of Project Crimson, The Tindall Foundation, Meridian and DOC, and also supported by Ocean and Real NZ Festival. Following the conclusion of the Living Legends Project, Whakaipo Bay was one of 6 out of 17 sites Living Legends funded sites chosen to have funding continued at a lower rate via the Tindall Foundation, receiving $15,000 in total over the next three years. Whakaipo was chosen largely for ‘the strength of community participation’.
The Living Legend plantings focused on the replanting of gullies within the reserve, and were deliberately planned to leave ‘pathways’ for recreational tracks. Once the recent plantings become more established these tracks will become walkways through the reserve under a canopy of regenerating indigenous forest. These tracks also lead from the more heavily used lakefront part of the reserve into the interior of the reserve which currently is under-utilised. As well as providing attractive walking tracks for the community, this will also serve to better spread the recreation use around the reserve.
The Living Legends site at Whakaipo Bay was completed in September 2017 this could not have been achieved without the help of Sir Colin Meads the many hundreds of volunteers, community groups and organisations and the financial support up to 2016 by Living Legends and the Tindall foundation.
In 2017 Greening Taupo was then successful in securing funding from Waikato Catchment Ecological Enhancement Trust [WCEET] for the next three years and with the ongoing assistance from DOC, Greening Taupo can continue with the restoration of the retired gullies at Whakaipo Bay. The community values this site highly and contributes greatly to this work with enthusiasm each year.