City’s volcanic past explored on new trail

Blasts from the past . . . Dunedin Botanic Garden information services officer Clare Fraser sits beside the Water of Leith reading the new Dunedin Volcano Trail brochure, which highlights the many volcanic features in the garden. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Dunedin’s active volcanic past and its influence on the landscape are explored on a new interpretive trail at the Dunedin Botanic Garden.

Set to be launched this weekend, the trail is a partnership between the garden and GNS Science, and highlights the massive extinct Dunedin Volcano (Rakiriri) and the rock it has left around the city.

Garden information services officer Clare Fraser said the Dunedin Volcano Trail was an exciting project that helped showcase some of the less-often visited spaces in the garden.

“There were at least three eruptive phases of the Dunedin Volcano 10 to 16million years ago, and the botanic garden is the best place in the city to see the results,” she said.

There were at least two main vents to the Dunedin Volcano, one near Port Chalmers and the other at Hooper’s Inlet, and many more smaller volcanic centres dotted about the city.

The nearest to the botanic garden was at the quarry site near Logan Park.

The one-hour, self-guided trail starts at the information centre in the lower garden – highlighting rocks that erupted first – then winds along the river and up through the Rhododendron Dell to the South African and Mediterranean Gardens to where more recent rock is found.

Pocket-sized brochures, available at the information centre and from bollards around the garden, provide information on the main features.

“We tend to focus on the things that are above the ground, but this trail helps to reveal some of the amazing things below that influence our soil and plants,” Ms Fraser said.

“It also encourages people to visit some of the places in the garden that are less well-known, and where there are some incredible views to be seen.”

The Dunedin Volcano Trail will be launched on Sunday, at 2pm, with a guided walk led by GNS Science geologist Adam Martin.

Meet at the information centre in the lower garden and be prepared to walk, rain or shine.