Ross Hawthorne is on a one man crusade to tidy up, and plant trees and shrubs along the riverbed between Chalmers Avenue and Trevors Road.
Ross, a regular user of the walking track, had noticed the fast growing weed Old Man’s Beard was taking over and smothering plants.
‘‘So I cleared it back and found plants, and placed plant guards around them.’’
The 715 plant guards were donated by Anzco where Ross works – his boss Chris Hindson was keen to help Ross with the project.
Ross estimates he has rescued and planted over 600 plants in a 260 metre area.
Most of those he has planted were found self-seeded in the area and he either clears space around them to help them grow, or relocates them to another area.
He is only planting natives and plants originally in the area like Pittosporums, Ribbonwood, Broad leaves, flax, Lancewood, Olearia, native grasses, Kowhai and Coprosma.
His son also donated Manuka plants for the project.
Ross said it was important to plant the area because of the bird life and for future generations.
‘‘I’d actually like to see some of the native birds coming back to the area, more than just fantails and I would like to leave it in a better state for people in the future.’’
One of the main challenges in the area is flooding from the river.
After flooding last year Ross almost gave up because most of his plants where smothered by silt.
But he managed to find most of his pink marker sticks (identifying plantings) and dig them out. ‘‘I spent freezing cold mornings trying to find them and dig them up.’’
Ross started in April last year and spends most weekends down at the river clearing and planting.
‘‘It’s a bit of a hobby, it’s pretty satisfying especially when you chop into a piece of Old Man’s Beard,’’ he said with a grin.
Users of the track who see Ross at work give him encouragement saying ‘‘good on you.’’
Ross is keen for anybody interested in helping to get in touch with him on: 028 409 8185.