Fire & Emergency New Zealand

Wildfire risk reduction programme in Lake Tekapo

Wildfire risk reduction programme in Lake Tekapo

Fire and Emergency teams will be taking to the streets in Lake Tekapo next week to start encouraging residents to start taking action around their homes to reduce their exposure to wildfire.

Wednesday’s activity delivering information to householders is part of a joint effort with the Mackenzie District Council, Environment Canterbury and the Department of Conservation to manage and mitigate the Lake Tekapo community’s risk from vegetation fires.

There will be a community information evening in Lake Tekapo this month and another will be offered on-line for property owners who live elsewhere.

Fire and Emergency’s District Manager for Mid-South Canterbury, Rob Hands, said 57 vegetation fires have been recorded in the area over the last 11 years, and in spring 2020 there were major wildfires nearby at Lake Pukaki and Lake Ōhau.

"We have been working with Mackenzie District Council and ECan for several months to reduce some of the risk factors on publicly owned land in the wider Lake Tekapo area."

This has included maintaining fire breaks, pruning the lower branches of trees to reduce their fuel load, planting more low-flammability species and improving evacuation routes in high-risk areas that are well used by the public.

"Now we will be supporting residents to look at their own property and take some simple steps to reduce their exposure to a fast-moving wildfire," Mr Hands said.

Mackenzie District Council recognises that wildfire is a hazard for our area that is only going to intensify due to climate change. General Manager Operations, Planning and Regulatory, David Adamson, said the Council welcomed the partnership approach to reducing the risk.

"We are looking forward to involving our urban residents as well as those living on farms and lifestyle blocks in the surrounding area. Everyone has a part to play.

With their local knowledge and deep connections in the community, members of the Lake Tekapo Volunteer Fire Brigade will also be key players in the wildfire risk reduction project. On Wednesday they’ll get a helping hand from other Fire and Emergency personnel from around the district to start spreading the word among residents.

The community information session will be at 6.30pm on Thursday 22 September in the Lake Tekapo Community Hall.