A memorandum of understanding is being finalised between Fish & Game New Zealand and Friends of Bullock Creek (FOBC).
FOBC president Andrew Waterworth said the land continued to be owned by Fish & Game, but FOBC would aim to “protect, preserve and enhance the creek”.
The objective of FOBC was to do “everything we can to enhance its role and its beauty” from its headwaters to its entry point into Lake Wanaka.
The group would raise awareness and educate people on the creek’s history and significance for Wanaka.
“As the Thames is to London, so Bullock Creek is to Wanaka,” Mr Waterworth said.
“So many towns have been built bordering, or on either side of, a water course, because water is vital for drinking, for washing, for industry – for a whole raft of reasons.”
The creek flowed all the way “through the heart of Wanaka” to the lake and was an important natural resource that needed to be protected.
FOBC would act as a watchdog to monitor any potential effects on Bullock Creek from stormwater runoff from the adjoining Meadowstone Alpha Series subdivision, Mr Waterworth said.
Secretary Roger Gardiner said FOBC had formed last year out of the Wanaka Residents’ Association, which was “past its use-by date”.
“The average age of our membership is close to 80. We are part of a bygone era.”
The WRA was in the process of being wound down and there were plans to transfer any remaining assets to a similar trust, which, at the moment, it was hoped would be FOBC, Mr Gardiner said.
The WRA had done great work fundraising and doing the work required to build the boardwalk, but it was time for a different approach, he said.
Community projects engaged people from all ages, so it was anticipated the residents’ association would be wound up in favour of the FOBC.
Fish & Game had agreed that 2.5ha of land beside the former hatchery, including the boardwalk, would be “maintained in perpetuity” for members of the public to use, Mr Gardiner said.
FOBC had access to the Department of Corrections offenders’ community work programme which had enabled clearing and planting to take place on the reserve over the last two years.
“By virtue of that we have had manpower, and continue to have manpower.”
Otago Fish & Game officer Paul van Klink said he was delighted with the relationship that was being built with FOBC.
FOBC had been instrumental in “drumming up support” for the creek, which was a “real community asset”.
The focus at the moment had been on the restoration of the area by the former hatchery, but he hoped in the future there would be opportunities to engage other landowners along the length of the creek.
It was good to have an amenity the whole community could enjoy, he said.