Large tree in Queens Park toppled in stormy weather

Wild weather buffeting the deep south during the last few days caused a large mature tree to fall in Invercargill’s Queens Park, with residents asked to temporarily avoid the area.

Invercargill City Council Manager – Parks and Recreation Caroline Rain said residents were asked to steer clear of area surrounding the duck pond, as staff worked to clear the damaged tree and assess others for potential damage.

“Invercargill has enjoyed a pretty mild winter, but August has certainly started with a cold snap. Extremely high winds and very wet weather during July have caused a large tree to fall into the duck pond,” she said.

“The tree is a big one – its rootball is about six metres wide and we estimate it is 100 years old. Unfortunately, we believe due to the ground being so saturated, the rootball of the tree has unexpectedly destabilised, which has caused it to come down. Trees which fall in these circumstances are very hard to assess for risk, as the damage occurs underground and therefore is not immediately visible.”

The tree fell around midday on Wednesday.

“Parks staff responded on-site immediately. Our first priority is to ensure the safety of our community, so we have asked people to avoid the duck pond area until further notice. Not only do we need to clear the tree, we also have to repair damage to the paths and drains around the pond,” Ms Rain said.

“We are using this as an opportunity to rejuvenate this area of the park. Several trees about the same age have had historical failure issues, which means proactive removal is the best option while our heavy machinery is on-site,” she said. “A number of these are also on the city’s flight path, so they would have been scheduled for removal in the next few years as well.”

Council staff would advise the community when it was safe to return to the duck pond. The tree was expected to be cleared today and staff would also assess any damage to the pond and nearby path. A small area was likely to remain closed to the public until repairs were made, she said.