Anzac Day, 25 April, I parked my car in Catherine St, Christchurch, as I wanted to walk Woolston Loop where Heathcote River went past houses, industry and farmlands. I didn't walk the north bank of Woolston Loop, wheelchair-friendly, as it was cut off from farmlands.
2009. Heathcote River, Woolston Barrage, Radley Park, Christchurch
At Union Wharf near Woolston Barrage, I crossed Heathcote River over a footbridge into Radley Park on the south bank. I passed a dog training area, where wooden dog-jumps had Eukanuba signs advertising dog products.
Beside Heathcote River, on the tarsealed footpath a goatee-bearded man on a motorbike whizzed by with his brindled brown dog leashed to the handlebars - running hell-for-leather.
2009. Radley Park Dog Training Apparatus, Christchurch
Radley Park followed Heathcote River a bit, with native plantings along the bank to secure the bank. At the riverbend I watched ducks and pukekos, then walked past houses by willows and poplars on Cumnor Tce, with Castle Rock and The Tors as Port Hills backdrop.
2009. Heathcote River, down Woolston Loop, Radley Park, Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch
2009. Heathcote River, first bend downriver on Woolston Loop, Radley Park, Christchurch
Cumnor Tce houses degraded into industrial bldgs on either side of Heathcote River. Through a back gate, I snapped a Hazchem sign:
IN EMERGENCY DIAL 111
2009: Hazchem back gate sign, Cumnor Tce, Heathcote River, Christchurch
Hazchem sign had warning pics for flammable gas; flammable liquid; flammable solid; oxidising agent; toxic; corrosive; ecotoxin - the latter so close to Heathcote River. The industrial zone along Cumnor Tce / Heathcote River bank was a polluted mess.
For hundreds of metres I saw discarded plastic; cardboard; paper; wood; polystyrene; tin cans; aluminium cans; plastic hub caps; tyres; car junk. Riverside native plants and grass were polluted with rubbish. I wondered why Cumnor Tce businesses didn't phone Christchurch City Council and demand cleanups?
2009. Heathcote River bend, Woolston Loop by Cumnor Tce, Christchurch
2009. Another Heathcote River bend, Woolston Loop by Cumnor Tce, Christchurch
I crossed Garlands Rd Bridge and continued past more businesses, with more litter polluting Heathcote River bank. On another Heathcote River bend I passed a concrete sign: DANGER 11000 VOLT MED CABLES.
2009. Cumnor Tce / Chapmans Rd corner by Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
After the river bend, I continued down rubbished Cumnor Tce, a railway on my right. The incoming Pacific tide flowed fast upriver, water scummy and turbid. I came across white storage tanks on my right at Cumnor Tce / Chapmans Rd cnr.
I continued left along a gravel road past another DANGER 11000 VOLT MED CABLES sign beside Heathcote River. More businesses on my right including MANA TRANSPORT LTD, with views of Avoca Valley and Witch Hill. Business roads had easy access to Lyttelton Tunnel and Lyttelton Port on the far side of the Port Hills.
2009. Mana Transport Ltd by Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch
2009. Businesses by Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch
By riverside gums and pines, a double-padlocked gate had a red and white sign:
2009. Heathcote River by Farm Signs, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
I crossed a stile over the sign. Further on by an open gate, another red and white sign:
2009. Farm Road by Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
2009. Farm Shed by Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Avoca Valley backdrop, Christchurch
Not a soul in sight. There were no footpaths through the farm paddocks, but the gravel road followed Heathcote River towards Woolston Cut. I had downstream views of Woolston businesses on the opposite bank and gums and pines on the southern bank.
No rubbish pollution in the farm paddocks, but that would change, as the paddocks were earmarked for business development.
2009. Gum Tree view down Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
2009. Gums & Pines view up Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
On my right were wheat fields with macrocarpa shelter-belts going towards Lyttelton Tunnel Road in Heathcote Valley. I passed a house, then passed several small storage sheds on the riverside, passed a bigger shed with a tractor inside, passed straw bales stacked below a pine, and passed a green combine-harvester below a macrocarpa.
2009. Combine Harvester below Macrocarpa by Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
2009. Shags, Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
2009. Shag, Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
I coolpixed two shags on gum tree branches over Heathcote River. When I walked towards a flock of Canada geese raiding ripe wheat, geese flew off and wheeled in the cloudy sky towards another wheat field.
2009. Canada Geese above wheat field by Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Christchurch
2009. Wheat Field by Heathcote River, Woolston Loop, Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch
Riverside native plantings increased towards Woolston Cut. At the end of the wheat fields, I crossed a fence near a padlocked, spiked metal gate. Heathcote River flowed fast up Woolston Loop, below a small concrete bridge, while wide waters of Woolston Cut slowed tidal waters flowing up to Woolston Barrage.
2009. Heathcote River, end of Woolston Loop, lower Woolston Cut, Christchurch
I crossed a handrail by the spiked gate, and from the concrete bridge I watched tidal waters flow up Woolston Loop. I returned to my car via the south bank of Woolston Cut, crossing a footbridge to the north bank. Along the way I watched ducks and grey gulls avoiding chill winds by standing on lower steps by Woolston Cut. Woolston Loop, walk time: 2 hours.
28.07.10. The Press reported that 40 hectares of farmland by Woolston Loop to Tunnel Rd would become an industrial business park, leased or sold mainly for Lyttelton Port use, like container storage. Some park!
I wondered what would happen to birdlife - Canada geese, cormorants, pukekos...? Would Heathcote River by the industrial business park become another stinking sewer with sewage spills during wet weather? Would rubbish clog Heathcote River, as I'd seen upstream rubbish clog Heathcote River by commercial buildings near Rutherford St?
03.06.11 Coda: After 04.09.10 & 22.02.11 quake destruction of Christchurch sewers and drains, Heathcote River, Avon River & Avon-Heathcote estuary became stinking, open sewers for months, as sewage & waste water was pumped into rivers, while repairs were done. CONTAMINATED WATER signs lined riverbanks & estuary banks for months.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.