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Northbrook Wetlands | Rangiora | Boost your mood on this family friendly nature walk.

It's Sunday Funday and you're looking for a free family activity. Too easy! Hit Northbrook Wetlands. 

Northbrook Wetlands | Rangiora | Boost your mood on this family friendly nature walk.  - 1Northbrook Wetlands | Rangiora | Boost your mood on this family friendly nature walk.  - 2Northbrook Wetlands | Rangiora | Boost your mood on this family friendly nature walk.  - 3Northbrook Wetlands | Rangiora | Boost your mood on this family friendly nature walk.  - 4

First, the 'why'.

Swamps and wetlands are the kidneys of Mother Nature. Filtering out contaminants, sediment, nutrients and other nasties that enter our waterways, these saturated lands help in ‘treating’ run off before it enters our rivers and oceans. Thankfully, local councils and environmentally aware community groups are working hard to reinstate and develop wetlands to mitigate contamination from urban sprawl and agriculture.

OK, educational bit done, now read on!

I visited Northbrook Wetlands in Rangiora to see how beautiful urban greenspaces can be created while working hand in hand with Mother Nature.

Winter is knocking at the door and before setting off I scrape the ice from the car windows. Driving to Rangiora the magnificent colours of late autumn are evident in willows and other specimen trees that are not endemic to New Zealand. Though the red, brown and magnolia pigments are pretty, you’ll find none of them at Northbrook, it’s green heart evident in thoughtfully planted natives. I park the car (parking is free) and wander up the path to be greeted by a noisy Black Swan with four fluffy cygnets in tow.

Hang on, just a bit more educational stuff;

Northbrook Wetlands is made up of a series of ponds which are fed by Rangiora's stormwater system and linked together by thin weirs (little creeks with waterfalls). Each has its own job to do. The first pond is designed for settling sediment. The second pond is shallow and planted out with nutrient sucking reeds and flaxes. The third pond is ‘U’ shaped and has a slight flow to it. Here, UV light helps to ‘disinfect’ the water prior to re-entering Northbrook Stream. Too easy, and very effective! By the time the water has flowed through all three ponds it has lost 66% of dirt, 40% of excess nitrogen and 27% of phosphorus. 

Besides being a super green environmentally friendly project, Northbrook Wetlands provides a marvellous recreational space. The gravelly paths are wide, accommodating wheelchairs, prams and hand holding families. Little wooden jetties along the route offer a romantic tarriance and an opportunity to observe the aquatic life beneath.

You’ll cross a bridge at each weir amid a symphony of trickling water as it flows from one pond to another. A chorus of rowdy ducks and songs of Tūi and Bellbirds sway you from the reality of being in a vibrant little town. If you’re lucky, Pīwakawaka (fantails) will follow you along the trail, ready to devour any insects disturbed as you walk.

I take a seat on a sunny picnic bench and watch as families enjoy their Sunday morning stroll. Kids on balance bikes scoot along the trails with ease. Parents chatter freely as friendships are nurtured. Nearby, a young Dad and his children drink hot chocolate from a large thermos flask.

I think to myself, ‘we need more places like this’, and we do. Greenspaces that do double duty. Mindfully developed parks that support ecosystems and help Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) do her invaluable work. Native habitats for our birds and aquatic critters to thrive. Reminders that we live in and need nature.

If you’re visiting Rangiora, make some time to stroll the paths of Northbrook Wetlands. You'll leave feeling totally 'chipper' with a skip in your step and new 'happy place' to spend time with your friends and family.  

Circuit 1.5 km
Entrance at Cotter Lane off Northbrook Road, Rangiora. 

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