One Sunday afternoon I parked my car by Tennyson St Bridge, as I wanted to walk Riverlaw Tce and Aynsley Tce along a Heathcote River meander. My Christchurch city map showed the meander as a reverse S.
2009. Merchiston Garden Sign, Riverlaw Tce beside Heathcote River, Christchurch
I walked downriver along Riverlaw Tce past birches, poplars and willows. I passed St. Martins Seventh Day Adventist Church. Further on, I read visitors instructions on a green "MURCHISTON is a PRIVATE GARDEN" sign.
A man and his dog walked by. A girl in black jogged by. At that point Heathcote River was narrow and curved towards Wilsons Rd.
2009. Riverlaw Tce, Heathcote River, Eastern Tce, near Wilsons Rd Bridge, Christchurch
At Wilsons Rd Bridge I watched a mother riding her bike, with a towbar pulling her infant on a bike, with an older child following on another bike. Beyond Wilsons Rd Bridge on the opposite bank, I saw four cyclists pedalling upriver by Eastern Tce.
Near the end of Riverlaw Tce I turned left along a tarsealed track, and walked past St Martins Rd Bridge where Heathcote River widened.
2009. Heathcote River, Metal Footbridge, Derret Pl by Riverlaw Tce, Christchurch
2009. Eastern Tce, Heathcote River, Riverlaw Tce, Christchurch
By a wide bend in the river, I passed a metal footbridge by Derrett Pl. I passed Beckford Rd Bridge and a wooden footbridge by Armstrong Ave. In the distance I glimpsed a pine-forested gorge and a bike track up Mount Vernon Reserve in the Port Hills.
2009. Heathcote River, Riverlaw Tce, Christchurch
2009. Armstrong Ave by Heathcote River: View of Mount Vernon Reserve Gorge, Port Hills
2009. Hansen Park, Heathcote River, Riverlaw Tce, Christchurch
I crossed a duckboard bridge over a tributary and passed many ducks below willows on the grassy riverbank, with houses on my right and Hansen Park across Heathcote River on my left.
I crossed another duckboard bridge, and walked King George V Reserve along a gravel path through native bush plantings with a wooden deck on my left, and riverside houses on my right.
I emerged from the gravel path at Aynsley Tce where Heathcote River widened more.
2009. Hansen Park, Heathcote River, end of Riverlaw Tce, Christchurch
2009. Hansen Park, Heathcote River, Private Land between Riverlaw Tce & Aynsley Tce, Christchurch
2009. Heathcote River, near start of Aynsley Tce & King George V Reserve, Christchurch
I passed a concrete footbridge where a kayaker paddled by. I was irritated by traffic noise on Aynsley Tce. On the opposite bank I saw a teenager on a Vespa spinning on grass, impressing his mates. A hoon car with loud exhaust roared off, irritating me. No cops walking a beat.
2009. Hansen Park, Heathcote River, Aynsley Tce, Christchurch
2009. Heathcote River, Aynsley Tce, Christchurch
2009. Aynsley Tce Info Board about Aynsley Family, Christchurch
By Garlands Rd I passed another wooden footbridge, read an info board about the Aynsley family, examined a dead grey gull on the riverbank, then I watched a family feed ducks on the opposite bank by Opawa Children's Library.
2009. Heathcote River by Opawa Childrens Library, Christchurch
I crossed Opawa Rd Bridge and began my walk upriver to my car. Footbridge signs I passed forbade motorbikes. Never mind the Vespa's shenanigans.
2009. Heathcote River & Aynsley Tce view from Opawa Rd Bridge. Port Hills backdrop
In a pointillists painting, I ambled along Louisson Pl past Opawa School, enjoying the golden glow of late afternoon sun on the river, quilts of yellow and red autumn leaves floating by. Big hillside houses above Aynsley Tce reflected sunlight. (Some would be damaged in the 04.09.10 and 22.02.11 quakes).
I dawdled along a shared tarsealed track with bikers by Hansen Park. Along the way I greeted dogs walking their owners, carrying plastic poop bags. Beyond Hansen Park, I passed Rudolf Steiner School and continued along Fifield Tce.
2009. King George V Reserve & Heathcote River by Hansen Park track, Christchurch
Between St Martins Rd Bridge and Wilsons Rd Bridge, I dawdled a dirt path and kicked my way through poplar leaf-litter. I squeezed past two pairs of legs, while ladies chatted on a riverside bench.
2009. Heathcote River, Wilsons Rd Bridge. Witch Hill, Port Hills backdrop
Back at Wilsons Rd Bridge, I drank my CocaCola and snapped Witch Hill in the distance on the Port Hills. I returned to my car via Eastern Tce. Walk time: 2 hours 25 minutes.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.