Group call for boating restrictions on Kainui

Lake Kainui
Mallard ducks on Lake Kainui. Photo: Liz Scott

A group concerned about the effects of powerboats on bird life is looking to restrict boating activities on Lake Kainui (Lake D).

The Lake Kainui Action Group is made up of regular walkers at the reserve. Spokesperson Liz Scott told Number 8 Network waterbirds are suffering from the use of powerboats.

Not safe for birds

“The main problem is from the wake from the boats, especially with regard to the dabchicks’ nesting habits, but also because of the disregard the boat operators have towards birdlife. I have witnessed two separate incidents of boats chasing down Black Swans, causing them to fly off and in one case the swan flew into the high tension lines and died from its injuries.”

The lake is located within the Kainui peat bog, in Horsham Downs, and is administered by Waikato District Council. It is available for fishing, hunting, and some on-water recreational activities.  An access key costs $120 per season – which runs October to May.  Liz Scott says this covers the nesting season of dabchicks, a nationally vulnerable bird.

Dabchick Photo: David Riddell
Dabchick Photo: David Riddell

The dabchick

The Lake Kainui population currently numbers about five or six birds. “They are having trouble breeding because they usually build floating nests which cannot survive the continual waves created by powerboats.
“We feel privileged to be able to watch over the dabchicks and take great interest in their activities, especially during breeding season with mating displays and then, if they are lucky, the rearing of chicks. The best breeding season we have noticed is when three pairs of birds each raised one chick. More often than not no chicks are reared successfully.”

Locals and others

The group is in its infancy and is made up of locals and others from Hamilton and further afield. “I have lived locally for about 16 years and have walked the circuit of the lake regularly for about 10 years. The boats stir up the lake bottom and make the water very murky, which creates a difficulty for the diving birds – shags, dabchicks and kingfishers – to find food. Also, the environmental impact from powerboat waves is causing irreparable erosion to the lake banks.”

Weather permitting, there are usually around three or four boats on the lake every weekend during the season. “Over the summer school holidays there can be boats there every day.”

Policy change

The group hopes to put forward submissions to the Lake Kainui Recreation and Esplanade Reserves Management Plan, which is to be reviewed next year. “We are working towards having the support and ammunition in place by then to change the policy.

Lake Kainui, along with other streams, waterways, tributaries and wetlands, is important to the health of the Waikato River, she says.

Other birdlife includes mallard ducks, shags, kingfishers, pukeko, white faced herons, a small population of grey teal and the occasional black swan.

Canada Geese and Paradise Ducks visit seasonally and there have been sightings of egrets and a royal spoonbill.

“In order to breed, the birds are forced to fight off the rodents, mustelids, pukeko, shags and eels, all of which prey on both eggs and young, without having to contend with the powerboats causing disturbance and panic during the nesting season.

“We love our walks around the lake, watching the bird life, change of seasons and the peace and quiet, when the powerboats aren’t spoiling the tranquillity.”


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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

4 thoughts on “Group call for boating restrictions on Kainui

  • December 14, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    Why can these birds not be relocated to the other lakes in the area? The boats are only on there for short period of time during the year and provide a safe family environment.

  • December 16, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Oh for Pete’s sake! Lake D is the only one of Lakes A thru G(?) that boats are allowed on…at least two of the others are nature/wildlife reserves… there is ample space for birdlife on any of the other lakes… if these “concerned group” members are really concerned then they should plant up another lake and move said wildlife… or maybe that wildlife CHOSE the location because they (like many others) enjoy the sight of humans recreating on the water!!

  • December 23, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Well this is an interesting campaign. The Kainui Lake committee along with EW, WDC, local IWI, residents, fish and game and other groups have spent years restoring this lake with native bush and silt traps to clean up the water quality. It is the best example of a peat lake in the country. They continue to develop the lake to enable all aspects of recreational activities to have access and enjoy. Improvements are ongoing with walk ways being created to allow people to walk the lake all year round. The goal is to provide a facility that can be enjoyed by all groups. Why on earth would a group want to restrict activities that give so much pleasure to families. Where would you stop, lets stop duck shooters as the kill the birds, lets stop dog walkers as they don’t keep them on leashes and annoy the bird life and the local farm stock, lets stop walking in general as it may also upset the wild life with noise of their chatter. This lake has had a long time standing with boat use and it is the only lake that has this privilege there are buckets of lakes in the area that are designated passive recreation. you could argue that the boats aerate the water which is great for a peat lake.

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