I parked my car at Opawa Rd Bridge by Heathcote River, as I wanted to walk downriver to see Woolston Barrage and Woolston Wharfs. By the bridge a sign stated riverside grass wouldn't be cut from December to May to protect whitebait spawning grounds. A nearby info board described the life cycle of whitebait Galaxias maculatus.
2009. Whitebait Life Cycle Info Board beside Heathcote River, Clarendon Tce, near Opawa Rd Bridge, Christchurch
I walked downriver along Clarendon Tce and passed below Opawa motorway bridge, then a wooden-pile railway bridge, which had a black and white sign:
MAIN SOUTH LINE
2009. Clarendon Tce view of Rail & Motorway Bridges over Heathcote River, Christchurch
2009. Heathcote River Footbridge, Clarendon Tce, Christchurch
2009. Grey Gulls, Heathcote River Footbridge, Clarendon Tce, Christchurch
I passed a footbridge over Heathcote River, with a line of grey gulls perched on the handrail. I greeted two boys going fishing. At the end of Clarendon Tce, Heathcote River bent towards the Pacific. On the opposite bend I saw old Christchurch Quay by Ferry Rd.
2009. Heathcote River, Clarendon Tce, Christchurch
I crossed Radley St by Radley St Bridge. Across the bridge, I saw a Mobil service station on Ferry Rd. Beyond the bridge, on grassy, willowy riverside, I saw a derelict warehouse, walls covered in graffiti. A wall sign stated:
BEDDING COMPANY LIMITED
I walked a dirt path beside Heathcote River, the river on my left and backs of Heathcote St businesses across the river. A graffiti artist had changed a warehouse sign from NO PARKING to NO BARKING. House fences on my right were graffiti scrawled, even some willow trees graffiti sprayed. Turbid water & reeds were polluted: rotting clothes, paper, spray cans, a sunken TV. Clean, green NZ huh? Ducks didn't mind the dirty water.
2009. Radley Park by Heathcote River view of Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Radley Park view near Woolston Barrage, Heathcote River, Christchurch
Further on, Radley Park had tarsealed footpaths and distant views of Castle Rock, The Tors, Witch Hill in the Port Hills.
I stood on a footbridge and coolpixed Woolston Barrage, with Heathcote River flowing along Woolston Loop. Beyond Woolston Barrage (completed 1993) was Woolston Cut (completed 1986) a wide canal cutting across the loop, controlling tidal and flood waters.
Further downriver, Woolston Cut received waters from Woolston Loop again, continuing down Heathcote River to Avon-Heathcote Estuary. Graffiti polluted two Radley Park info boards: FLOOD PRONE HEATHCOTE and WHARVES ON THE HEATHCOTE RIVER.
2009. Woolston Barrage & Port Hills view from Heathcote River Footbridge, Radley Park, Christchurch
2009. Woolston Barrage Footbridge: start of upriver Heathcote Loop ~ aka Woolston Loop, Christchurch
I crossed a footbridge over the start of Woolston Loop, where water was scummy and turbid. I walked the tarsealed footpath by Woolston Cut, crossed Rutherford St Bridge (completed 1986) and continued to the end of Woolston Cut, where Woolston Loop downriver waters returned to the original Heathcote River course.
A padlocked steel gate with spikes on top stopped me following the south riverbank towards Heathcote River Bridge, where the road went towards Lyttelton Tunnel.
2009. Downriver Woolston Cut & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Heathcote River north bank view below Woolston Cut of Heathcote Valley, Horotane Valley & Avoca Valley, Port Hills, Christchurch
I backtracked a bit, crossed the footbridge over Woolston Cut and walked the north bank to Heathcote River bridge. Along the way I watched a shag diving and fishing and had views of Heathcote Valley, Horotane Valley and Avoca Valley in the Port Hills.
2009. North Bank Woolston Cut view to downriver end of Woolston Loop & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. North Bank Woolston Cut downriver view of Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. North Bank Woolston Cut upriver view towards Woolston Barrage, Heathcote River, Christchurch
I returned upriver following the north bank along a tarsealed footpath by Woolston Cut. I passed Woolston Barrage again. Nearby I found a concrete bollard with a bronze strip stating:
Local and imported timber and coal were landed here.
2009. Union Wharf & Footbridge, Heathcote River North Bank, Christchurch
Further on, beside a grassy track another concrete bollard with bronze strip:
est c. 1863
Limestone landed here was burnt in kilns for use by tanners and brickworks.
2009. Langdowns Wharf, Heathcote River North Bank, Christchurch
2009. Graffiti, Heathcote St business, Heathcote River North Bank, Christchurch
Beside Heathcote River I walked past houses, willows and flax. I crossed a duckboard bridge over a dry stream. I snapped the back of a graffiti-walled business, and found a third concrete bollard, sans bronze strip, smothered by blackberries near Radley St Bridge. Dead grass along Heathcote River bank showed someone had sprayed, not only killing grass, but polluting the water.
2009. Christchurch Quay, Heathcote River, by Ferry Rd, Christchurch
Heathcote River bank went upriver beside noisy Ferry Rd a bit, before bending by two huge poplars and a strawberry tree towards Richardson Tce. On the riverbend, another concrete bollard with bronze strip:
Sited well upriver this early wharf landed cargo and settlers' goods.
Before the bollard, a wooden fishing wharf. Near the wharf, an info board:
Sailing vessels brought cargo and settlers' belongings as far as this point - Christchurch Quay, also known as Radley Wharf.
The settlers trudged over the Bridle Path from Lyttelton, crossed the river at Ferrymead and walked along the muddy pot-holed Ferry Road to reach town.
Carrying goods up the river was costly. At first freight charges from Lyttelton to Christchurch Quay were almost as much as from London to Lyttelton.
In later years, the railway replaced the river for transport, because of cost, speed, and the dangers to craft of crossing the shifting Sumner Bar."
2009. Christchurch Quay Info Board, Heathcote River, by Ferry Rd / Richardson Tce cnr, Christchurch
2009. Heathcote River, Richardson Tce, Christchurch
2009. Heathcote River, Richardson Tce, Christchurch
I walked upriver along Richardson Tce, parallel to Clarendon Tce, back to my car. Walk time: 2.5 hours, incl coolpix stops.
2009. Clarendon Tce, Heathcote River, Road & Motorway Bridges, Richardson Tce, Christchurch
2009. Ngai Tahi Maori swamp fishing Info Board beside Opawaho River, aka Heathcote River, Christchurch
Near the rail and motorway bridges, I read a graffiti- sprayed info board, OUTPOST IN THE SWAMP, describing ancient Ngai Tahu Maori trekking between Kaiapoi and Rapaki, and stopping by Opawaho River to fish for eels and lampreys, and paddle their flax canoes in the swamp.
2009. Aynsley Tce, Heathcote River, other side of Opawa Rd Bridge near Clarendon Tce, Christchurch
Coda: Aynsley Tce, Clarendon Tce, Richardson Tce & Ferry Rd were damaged by liquefaction, cracks & slumping during the 2010-2011 quakes. During that time I drove my son daily to Christchurch Polytech near Richardson Tce, so I knew every quake crack, bump, lump, pothole & quake trashed bldg along Richardson Tce & Ferry Rd.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.