Challies Island Quarry

New Zealand

Contact Challies Island Quarry

    Over the past 170 years more than 95 percent of Nelson/Tasman’s wetland area has been lost to horticulture and agriculture. Over the next few decades Challies Island Quarry will, even in a small way, help address this by transforming land of low public value and biodiversity into a wetland taonga for the future.

    It is the result of five years’ careful planning by Fulton Hogan, Tasman District Council and the eight iwi of Te Tau Ihu to create a high quality, local source of aggregate, and long-term environmental and social benefits.

    Sourcing quality alluvial aggregate is especially important to the Nelson region, where hard rock quarries predominate. Nelsonians use, on average, around nine tonnes of aggregate per person per year, and the region has among the fastest growing demand in New Zealand.

    Quarrying at Challies Island began in early 2023, and the aggregate is processed within a kilometre of the site at Fulton Hogan’s Appleby processing plant. This is reached by a specially-built bridge over the Waimea River that protects the river course, and quarrying is limited to three months per year during the period of the lowest river flow. To ensure further environmental protection of the river, Fulton Hogan has invested around $3 million in enhancing the Appleby site with the installation of a silt press and removing silt ponds, and thereby reducing the risk of sediment discharges into the neighbouring Waimea River and the immediate environment.
    Fulton Hogan has already proven the feasibility of transforming an alluvial quarry site into a wetland with a ‘micro quarry’ 50 km north of the Challies Island site, adjacent to the Motueka River. Now fully planted, the experience will be of considerable benefit to Challies Island Quarry’s development.

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    • 7.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday
    • 7.00am to 1pm Saturdays
    • No operations on Sundays, public holidays and between 20 December and 6 January (Christmas holiday period)

    An estimated 1 million m3 of aggregate and an expected life of up to 10 years.

    1. The concept was conceived in 2018 to meet the community’s desire for a river park (the 2015 Waimea River Park Plan) that is integrated with The Great Taste Cycle trail, and to meet the community’s need for aggregate.
    2. A pilot quarry / wetland development at Motueka began in 2019, yielding 60,000m3 of aggregate before being replanted with local native species in 2023. Its success provides proof-of-concept for the larger Challies Island Quarry.
    3. Challies’ consent process ran from early 2020 to late 2021, and involved several iterations to address concerns about traffic congestion, traffic movements, river crossings, and fauna breeding and roosting patterns. Key outcomes included no transportation of aggregate on public roads, a three-month operational season and use of a temporary bridge.
    4. At the same time, Fulton Hogan invested approximately $3 million at its Appleby site to safeguard the adjacent Waimea River, including removing and remediating silt ponds and building a silt press.
    5. Extraction at Challies Island Quarry began in February 2023 and the first section of the quarry will be planted in 2024. Fulton Hogan will manage planting on each stage for two years after the extraction phase before passing the wetland back to Tasman District Council.

    The Challies Island site has high quality aggregate, confirmed from recent history of gravel extraction by Tasman District Council. It is close to where concrete and asphalt is needed for houses, roads, drains, cycle ways, railways, water networks and the innumerable other uses. It is also close to Fulton Hogan’s Appleby processing plant, minimising the environmental and financial costs for the community of long distance transportation. Longer term, it enables the creation of a wetland and community fishing ponds that will significantly increase the public amenity and biodiversity in the Waimea River Park and on the Great Taste Cycle Trail.

    In the past 170 years more than 95 percent of the Nelson region’s wetland has been lost to agriculture, horticulture and housing. The need to address the loss of wetlands is not unique in New Zealand, where ‘bogs’ or ‘wastelands’ were once considered something to be eradicated for more ‘productive’ purposes. The implications of the Challies Island development will be felt beyond the Nelson province, just as the implications of the pilot quarry-to-wetland initiative in Motueka has already influenced the design and development of Challies Island Quarry.

    The Waimea River Park Management Plan 2010 – https://www.tasman.govt.nz/my-council/projects/waimea-river-park-development/ outlines (on page 14) – Objective 1: Manage the riverbed and berm lands within the park to protect surrounding lands from flood flows of the Waimea River, to assist in maintaining the Waimea Plain aquifer and to maintain water quality. Objective 2 states: Manage the riverbed and berm lands to protect existing areas of wildlife habitat and to restore, wherever practicable, indigenous vegetation and habitats within the park, so long as such management is compatible with river control and soil conservation.

    Putting aside the benefits of – and need for – affordable and proximate aggregate for the community, the quarry is on previously leased farmland which had limited public access and little ecological or recreational value. It will be transformed into a wetland with a range of native flora and fauna, criss-crossed with 4.4ha of public access tracks for public access. As such, it can be a blueprint for other future alluvial quarry development.

    The wetlands will be connected to the Waimea River and underlying water table of the river bermland area. They are designed to maximise the depth (hence mass) of water to provide more constant water temperatures and a healthier habitat for fish and invertebrate life, with a positive flow-on to bird life and plant life. Around 40,000 plants will be planted per stage, and 200,000 for entire project.

    Discussions with the Tasman District Council began in 2018 and the two-year consent process – from early 2020 to late 2021 – resulted in 69 conditions relating to the quarry’s development and operation. Throughout the design and consent process, Fulton Hogan has also worked closely with Iwi, Fish & Game, local recreational users and manawhenua to ensure physical and cultural values are enhanced and to provide opportunities to educate and communicate values to community. Appleby School has, for example, adopted the development as a learning experience about the environment (biodiversity, plant and animal husbandry, in particular).

    The bridge ensures that aggregate can be transported to the Appleby processing plant, about 1km away on the other side of the Waimea River, without vehicles coming into contact with the river flow. In doing so, it also removes the need to transport aggregate to Appleby by road, with the attendant environmental and congestion issues. The bridge is only in place during the three months of the year during which extraction occurs, and can be removed within 24 hours of a predicted flood event.

    The site is designated ‘Type 1 Waters of National Importance’. Numerous indigenous and introduced fish – longfin eel, shortfin eel, upland bully, redfin bully, common bully, bluegill bully, common smelt, inanga and torrent fish, brown trout, yelloweye mullet and chinook salmon – have already been recorded. The river bed and berm will also provide feeding, roosting and breeding habitat for populations of indigenous birds and introduced game birds. More than 50 bird species have been recorded in the vicinity. The open gravel beds will be home to black-fronted tern, banded dotterel, black-fronted dotterel and the bermland and lower inlet area – Australasian bittern, banded rail, spotless crake, marsh crake, and fern bird.

    The Great Taste Cycle Trail goes down either side of the quarry site, and walking and cycling tracks will criss-cross the wetlands. As the proposed wetland is a work site during extraction and while creating the wetland, trails may be detoured to keep workers and community safe. These will be clearly signposted.