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Improvements make Sanctuary Gardens more accessible

October 21st, 2015
[by David Armstrong]

One of Motueka's quiet secrets, the Sanctuary Gardens, has been receiving some attention in recent months, with new paths making it more accessible to visitors.

The garden area, which is reclaimed swamp land on Old Wharf Road beside the Goodman Park sports fields, is now one of the projects of Keep Motueka Beautiful, having previously been looked after by the Motueka Soroptimists.

With funding from the Nelson Tasman Soroptimist Trust and the help of Tasman District Council, KMB volunteers have created a new entrance area near the eastern end of the park, planted out a large area near the entrance with appropriate bushes, and created two gravel paths from the entrance leading into the gardens. (See photo above.)

The path curving northwards to the quaint wetland bridge was completed last week, with the help of a grant from Network Tasman. KMB's next task will be to create a longer path near the northern boundary of the gardens, from the present path end and running to the Goodman Park fields.

Other recent additions include a picnic table which was donated by Jim Butler, until recently a long-time committee member for KMB, dedicated to the memory of his late wife Beryl.

Sanctuary Gardens was a shallow part of the estuary before Old Wharf Road was built, and it allowed small flat-bottomed boats to move cargo towards the early township at high tide. It was part of a 36 acre block bought by Edwin Bensemann in 1972 as mainly a swamp.

Over many years it was drained and made into ponds with islands for birdlife, using the fill to raise the land and slowly develop pasture and later a kiwifruit orchard. During this time Mr Bensemann planted and protected hundreds of trees

In 1992 he sold the land to TDC, with most of it now used for the sports grounds, but with the condition that the Sanctuary Pond area be kept as a public park and sanctuary area for birdlife.

The Soroptimists took on the task of maintaining and improving the gardens, but when they closed down a couple of years ago they transferred their remaining funds to Keep Motueka Beautiful, who then used that money and some of their own to begin the enhancements at the entrance.

At that time it was acknowledged that not enough people were visiting this beautiful, quiet part of Motueka, in part due to the fact that the ground was soft and often wet, especially in winter. This made it difficult for people to walk around and certainly for people in wheelchairs who would otherwise greatly appreciate the tranquility and beauty of the park.

Looking southwards from the bridge toward the Old Wharf Road entrance

The popular archway and the picnic table donated by Jim Butler


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