facilities for structured recreation
has a prototype of
the native bush - a
semblance of the
lowland region of
The Research Problem
Landscape’s multiple attributes
park users (various
“Very difficult, if not impossible,
to concentrate on a
single management approach”
consider the following
research problem related to
Specifically, the inquiry raises these
i) what are the function/s of
the park’s resources,
ii) who utilise these
iii) how are they utilised?
Intrinsic Rights and Values:
•Direct values (consumptive
use and productive use)
•Indirect values (non-
consumptive use, option value
and existence value).
The general aim of the study
is to be able to obtain an
as to how to go about in
Particularly, this study is
grounded on the following
1. To measure the
temporal and spatial
levels of park use.
4. To infer from the
would make Victoria
5. To draw conclusions and
recommendations that would
prove beneficial, not only to
the future management of the
Esplanade but also to similar
areas not only in New Zealand
but also in other parts of the
1. To measure the temporal and spatial
levels of park use.
This first objective seeks to measure variations
in seasonal as well as area-wise resource
utilisation. Both these aspects will be
accomplished through a user survey
questionnaire. The survey will establish the
variation in levels of use, measured in average
number of visiting days per year, usual time of
visits, average hour spent, and seasonal
percentages of visits. The second part of this
objective will establish the relative distribution of
visitors for each major areas of the Esplanade.
2. To characterise the site visits.
The second objective seeks to describe actual
site visits. Data gathered will include frequency
of area visitation, and pattern of activities
participated in. Data for trip description will
include journey time to the park, travel time,
mode of transport, and types of route usually
taken, i.e., what street or entrance or exit is/are
3. To characterise the site visitors.
The third objective seeks to establish the socio-
demographic backgrounds and attitudes of
park visitors. Socio-demographic parameters
would include age, gender, group composition,
education, geographical origin, occupation,
employment status, and income. Visitors’ attitude
concerning the park areas will be dealt with in
terms of their likes and dislikes, and desired
improvements on park facilities and services.
4. To infer from the results
recommendations that would make Victoria
Esplanade more visitor friendly.
It is understood that such recommendations are
to serve only as guides, and should not be
viewed as mandatory on the part of the park’s
5. To draw conclusions and
recommendations that would prove
beneficial, not only to the future
management of the Esplanade but also to
similar areas not only in New Zealand but
also in other parts of the world.
This study will then stand among all existing
studies on park utilization. It will also update
previous surveys on the Esplanade, such as those
conducted by Brassell, C. Cottle, A., Gan, K.C.,
Hunt, M., Jones,and R., & A. Kirkland (1991) as
well as complement the city’s PNCC plan.
•The study focuses on users and guests of the
Victoria Esplanade following the seasonal cycle.
•Survey respondents were chosen randomly
over the normal visiting hours of the day. An
interview schedule geared to surface
information vital to the study was earlier
prepared. The schedule was pre-tested and
fine-tuned before it was actually administered.
•Results of the interview were then duly
collated, analysed and interpreted. The
findings are presented in this paper.
Rationale of the Study
•A park manager’s primary instrument in his job is basic
knowledge of its user’s preferences.
•Park management would most likely want to know,
1) who use the park, comparing data with the wider
community surrounding the park; 2) which park
facilities are overused, underused, and misused by
the park visitors, facilitating decisions on future
investment strategies; 3) why some members of the
community do not use the park, providing guidance
for outreach programs; 4) what features of the park
do visitors value most, thereby providing bases for
conflict resolution among groups in the community.
Limitations of study
•Exploratory undertaking with the aim of
characterising the respondents of the survey
•This will not establish the recreational demand
for the whole of Palmerston North community;
rather, it will focus only on the actual visitors of
•Although comparison will be made between this
study and a previous one on the esplanade’s
usage, such comparison is also limited in the
sense that the two studies are almost a decade
apart, i.e. preferences changes through time.
•Moreover, the immediate focus of this study is
that of managing the landscape while at the
same time providing for recreation.
•Due to the interconnectedness of things, in
reality, a more cyclical management process
involving the aforementioned management
programs or responsibilities should be taking
place. Hence, this study is not necessarily an end
•Much of the recommendations ensuing from the
results and discussion section are very much
superficial, with only the major management
considerations taken into account.
•On the part of the researcher, no detailed park
management plan is envisioned to materialise,
although it is the very aim of the study to
contribute to such a plan.
•Nevertheless, results provide valuable
information to park management in general
particularly on the inter-connectedness of man
and his landscape.
preliminary main survey
and on-site visitor survey
visual distributed, self-
censuses administered, mail-
main survey questionnaire
•literature review on parks and/or
•series of consultation with
•the visitors themselves, and
•the park management
•Fixed response or closed response
questions, e.g. Gender: M or F
• Rating scale method, e.g. How often
do you visit the park each year?
•Open-ended questions or Free-
response questions, e.g. Give a word
which describes how you feel after
•questionnaires were distributed
systematically; 1:10 visitors
encountered were asked to take part in
•each questionnaires was number-
•data such as time and area of
distribution, as well as the prevailing
weather condition of each outing noted.
•The respondent’s socio-
•The park’s variations in level of use
•Characteristic of the trip
•Characteristic of the visit
•Variations on level of use over space
•Attitudes of the visitors
1. The ‘30-39’ years range dominated both samples of
promote the park (or any of its resources) by targeting
particular age groups that didn’t surface in the survey.
2. Older groups tend to do more annual visits to the park
compared with the younger population.
it is argued that older people visit more frequently and
stay for greater lengths of time
retain peaceful atmosphere or spaces, which are often
perceived as safer places in which to relax by older people
3. Females greatly dominated both samples.
4. Half or more than half of the sampled respondents have
children (dominated by pre-schoolers) living with them.
5. These women (with children) come to the park more
often in winter than in summer.
So far, gender and age should play a major factor in
park management considerations.
6. Majority of the respondents were the ‘homemakers’
followed by the ‘professionals’; the least were the unskilled
laborers e.g. ‘clerks’.
7. The higher the education or qualification, the greater
the degree of park visitation (participation).
8. Middle classes and the Upper classes devote more visits
to the Esplanade compared to the lower income groups
and the unemployed.
Temporal Level of Park Usage
•Most people visit the parks during weekends
•Visitations were more frequent during public holidays
and increased during school holidays
•Visits typically reveals a marked focus upon weekend as
opposed to weekday use
In lieu of the above, if ever time or maintenance
support is an issue, the management could probably
concentrate in preparing the park (e.g, pruning for
safety reasons) more for the weekend visitors or
scheduling major works like those entailing lots of
noise during the lesser peak days.
•The usual rate of yearly visits for most visitors is <10
•The number of visitors is indirectly proportional to the
frequency of visitation.
occasional users would comprise the majority of the
respondents, while the regular users would
compose the minority of the visitors
•Winter and Summer samples equally preferred the 8-12
a.m. and 1-4 p.m. visitation time frames.
•Usual time of accessing or entering the park produced two
modes in the time frames of 8-12 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.
•Visitation means were 1.6 ± 0.88 hours for the winter
sampling and 1.8 ± 0.96 hours for the summer sampling.
improving the landscape amenities or
introducing new attractions, or management may
also opt not to do anything to address duration of
visits, but rather address the less represented
portion of the population.
•For both samples, summer visitation was found to be
proportionately higher with mean values of 60% and 70%
for the summer season and winter season, respectively.
the effect of season on one’s participation is
clearly evident here
to augment visitor population during the lean
winter months, the park management could embark
on initiating seasonal programs, particularly winter
activities. Also, comprehensive asset assessment
and major physical maintenance could also be
performed during this period when fewer visitors
would be bothered by maintenance work.
• About 75%-80% of the respondents came from their
places of residence.
• These were followed by those who have to travel longer
distances to visit.
• A very minimal number of respondents said they come
directly from their work.
• About 4/5 of the total respondents were from the city
(winter: 70.3%, and summer: 71.6%).
actual location of a facility is a major determining
factor in participation rate and falls progressively as
one move farther away from the facility.
•The usual mode of going to the park is by a private car
(75% of the respondents); 1/5 travel by walking (on foot).
Government agencies could be tapped as
program partners of the park to assist people who
have no access to cars in going to the park.
Inter-agency cooperation just like the ones used
by parks in the Chicago district (USA) have worked
successfully in program implementation and for
Increase maintenance rate of cycling lane and
•The usual length of time it takes most people to reach the
park is 10 minutes.
“all studies tend to indicate that open space is
typically a localised resource, and unless there is a
special purpose, the distance travelled to parks will
not normally exceed a mile, or thereabouts.”
•More than 40% of the respondents (both samplings)
indicated the use of Gate 5 as their points of entry and exit.
While, Gate 2 accounted for generally one-fifth of the
respondents’ responses. In total, almost 70% of the
respondents utilize these two gates.
This may indicate the need to make improvements
in the gate areas since these areas give visitors their
initial and final impression of the park.
The other designated entry and exit points that
appeared in the survey must be assessed for other
attributes that visitors do look, as for instance safety
or aesthetic value.
•Approximately half of the respondents from both
samplings indicated that they were with their ‘children’
during their visits.
•The mean total number of individuals per group
(including the respondent) was 4.8 (~ 5 individuals).
Since majority of the park visit had to do with children, that is,
adults accompanying their children in the playgrounds, the
Esplanade park management must make every effort to make
its facilities as child-friendly as possible. Playground
equipment must meet international safety standards. Annual
and/or even periodic comprehensive asset assessments would
probably reveal what need to be done to achieve this ideal.
Spatial Level of Park Usage
•only the playground had the highest rate of visitation at
six on the scale, which says ‘More always than sometimes.’
•Areas that were visited ‘Sometimes’ include the Victoria
Drive, the Riverside Walkway, the Nature Trail, the Palm
Drive, the Rose Garden, the Aviary, and the Duck Pond.
The remaining 18 other areas is even less visited.
This means these areas really deserve a careful
consideration as far as visitation is concern. It could
also be seen that some of these areas, like the
Manawaroa Park (Rugby field) and the hockey
pitches, cater to highly ‘specific’ clientele, i.e.
individual or groups with specific sport activities in
•The top three activities include ‘walking’, ‘playing in
playground’ and ‘picnic’. During the winter sampling
‘walking’ ranked first with a mode of 78.9%, followed by
‘playing’ at 65.6% and the third was having a ‘picnic’ with
57.8%. For the summer sampling, the top two activities for
the winter samples switched places. ‘Playing’ ranks first
with 73.3%, followed by ‘walking’ with 70.7%, then
‘picnic’ with 66.4% at third.
Very much related to the spatial level of use are
the types of activities the respondents have been
Attitudes of the Visitors
•Favourite areas consistently chosen by respondents from
both samples were the Rose Garden, the playground, the
aviary, the nature trail and the riverside walkway.
The Victoria Esplanade is ranked as one of the top ten parks in New Zealand
(Tritenbach, 1987). It is an important resource and recreational space for the
city of Palmerston North (Henderson, 1995) It has facilities for both passive and
active recreation. The park has a variety of attractions which include an
extensive native bush and flower gardens, children’s playground, the aviary,
ponds and paddling pool, miniature railway and many more (Crawford 1972).
The Victoria Esplanade Gardens has an area of 19 acres, and is bounded on
its south and south-southwest portion by the Manawatu River, on its
northwestern part by Park Road, a major portion to its north by Ongley and
Manawaroa Parks, and to its north eastern portion by Fitzherbert Avenue (see
Figure 1.2 for the Esplanade’s map).
The Palmerston North City Council’s brochure for the Victoria Esplanade
details the garden’s history:
In 1876 the Wellington Provincial Government granted the newly
established borough of Palmerston North 361 acres of land for use as a public
park, recreational ground and botanic gardens. The development of the
Esplanade began in1897 with a gravel footpath laid out at the Fitzherbert Street
(now Avenue). This was named “Victoria Drive” to commemorate Queen
Victoria’s 60th Jubilee.
Victoria Esplanade serves great historical, horticultural and recreational function
for Palmerston. Yet it is possible that its potential as a park has not yet been fully
realised (Scrimgeour, 1990). No available data quantifying public utilization of
the Esplanade existed prior to Brasell, Cottle, Gan, Hunt, Jones & Kirkland
(1991). Brasell and his colleagues did a preliminary study through a telephone
survey. The output consisted of responses from a randomly selected sample of
180 Palmerston North residents. It identified the most popular attractions of the
park—the rose gardens, followed by the aviary, various other plant displays, and
the conservatory. Such attractions are passive and more general in nature and
hence appeal to people of all ages. The more specific and often active attractions
include the children’s play area, tearoom facilities, and the river walk and bridle
track. These facilities appeal to particular groups of visitors. The mini-golf area
and miniature railway also attract their own particular visitors (Brasell al.,
1991). Ten years after Brasell’s study, no additional studies of a similar nature
has been undertaken. The demographic profile of the park users’ may have
already changed, yet comprehensive studies on the utilization of the park’s
resources continue to be scarce.