Riverside rubbish prompts tears

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A family trip to the Cardrona River to collect pine cones ended in tears for Wanaka woman Charlottle Trundle, who says she was devastated by the amount of rubbish illegally dumped in the area off Ballantyne Rd.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of rubbish we stumbled upon down there. It brought tears to my eyes to see how bad it was,” she told The News.

The writer and professional snowboarder said she and her husband, Bruno Moise Cretney, had gone to the area, next to the transfer station and Wanaka Wastebusters recycling depot, with their daughter Audrey (2).

“We found computers, mattresses, broken bottles, industrial glue, car bonnets and building supplies – it felt like I wasn’t even in Wanaka.

“I don’t want to think of my daughter being brought up in a world where this kind of littering is OK. It is not safe to go walking down there with children.”

She spent a lot of time running beside the area’s rivers and lakes and her husband was a keen fly fisherman who also loved the rivers.

After visiting the area she decided to organise a community cleanup, launching a Facebook page.

“It is too easy to put our head in the sand and act like this kind of thing is not happening in our area, but it is and if we don’t do anything about it we may all be swimming in rubbish in 10 years’ time,” Ms Trundle said.

The cleanup taking place on Saturday from 9am had attracted huge support from the community, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, the Department of Conservation and local businesses that were providing everything from signage, gloves and rubbish bags to tickets to the New Year Rhythm and Alps Festival.

It was hoped barbecue food would be provided. Helpers with trailers were also needed.

Ms Trundle was reluctant to “point the finger” at any sectors of the community who could be responsible for the rubbish.

“I think it is coming from a mix of local residents and seasonal workers.

“The area is out of sight and close to the dump – I don’t think those two factors are a coincidence.”

It was possible opening hours at the transfer station and the cost to dump rubbish was a deterrent.

“Certainly I think the $400 fine for dumping is laughable – it needs to be increased.”

Queenstown Lakes District Council communications manager Michele Poole said the transfer station was open seven days a week, 361 days a year from 11.30am to 3.30pm.

“I’d say that people being lazy is more likely the cause of illegal dumping.

“There is also a large bin outside the transfer station where locals can leave their blue rubbish bags outside opening hours, so there’s no reason why people should be dumping rubbish on roadsides.”

People dumping rubbish illegally (fly-tipping) could be fined between $100 and $400, with the amount dependent on the quantity of rubbish, Ms Poole said.

“The current opening hours reflect what the Wanaka community asked for last time the level of service was consulted on.

“If the Wanaka community would like longer hours, it’s a matter of making a submission to the council when the annual plan and budgets are being set (around March each year) so that the cost of longer hours can be considered against the benefits of having longer hours. That’s a decision the elected members make.”

Community cleanup

What: Cleanup of Cardrona River marginal strip by Friends of Cardrona River.

When: Saturday, November 5, from 9am.

Where: Cardrona River track opposite Wastebusters. Access from Ballantyne Rd, town side of Faulks Rd Bridge (look out for signs).

What to bring: Trailers, rubbish bags, gloves, food.