Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2009. Barnett Park Walkway and Caves, Redcliffs

2009. Barnett Park Carpark, Redcliffs. Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch

I parked my Toyota at Barnett Park carpark off Main Road, Redcliffs, as I wanted to walk Barnett Park Walkway to the big cave below John Britten Reserve in the Port Hills. By the carpark a wooden sign stated:


2009. Barnett Park Walkway Sign, Redcliffs, Christchurch

2009. Barnett Park Information, Redcliffs, Christchurch

A carpark info board described walks in Barnett Park, Redcliffs and Moncks Bay. A REDCLIFFS RIFLE RANGE info board stated:

"Redcliffs and Moncks Bay played a part in the military history of Christchurch throughout the 20th century. During the first and second World Wars defensive positions were built on vantage points on the Port Hills and along the coast from Ferrymead to Lyttelton.

The Redcliffs Rifle Range was opened in 1902 on land leased from JS Monck the owner. It was renamed Barnett Park in the 1960s.

The most accessible pillbox along the coast is a few minutes walk from here, on the coastal path to Sumner. It housed a medium machine gun.

Day-to-day living took second place to the war effort in many of New Zealand's coastal communities during World War 2. Here at Redcliffs soldiers recuperated in the local school and its pupils were taken by tram to Woolston School.

A hospital for minor surgery was set up in the park..." (CCC)

2009. Barnett Park Military History, Redcliffs, Christchurch

I walked to the end of muddy soccer fields, and crossed a stile on Moncks Spur side of the valley. In the leased cattle and sheep paddock a wooden sign stated:


A blue and white sign below stated:


2009. Stile at start of Barnett Park Walkway below Moncks Spur, Christchurch

During my Barnett Park circuit-walk I saw several walkers with their dogs, and not one dog was leashed. A green sign had pictures forbidding things like biking, horseriding, shooting... and ended with the slogan, "Take only photographs. Leave only footprints."

2009. Barnett Park Walkway view of Gorse Infestation, Port Hills, Christchurch

I walked the steep path up the west side of the narrow valley, below bluffs and caves. I passed dead, sprayed gorse beside the path, which was useless, as above the fence towards Moncks Spur housing, gorse grew prolifically. Beyond the cattle paddock, gorse infestation increased then changed to native bush and grass higher up the valley.

2009. Barnett Park Walkway view towards Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

I crossed a duckboard bridge over a dry gully stream, and on the east side of the valley I saw teenagers wandering downwards. On my way up I passed through a small gate, and a woman and her leadless dog passed me going down. A man with long blonde hair and his two leadless dogs passed me going up. A man in black, nattering on his cellphone, smiled, going down.

2009. Barnett Park Walkway view of valley towards Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Southshore Spit, Christchurch

Valley walls closed in, and I passed below pylon cables strung from a pylon on top of Moncks Spur across the valley to a pylon on the valley floor beside a stream on the east side. I sat on a wooden bench, and drank Schweppes Sparkling Duet, while admiring views over low tide Avon-Heathcote Estuary, cloudy Pegasus Bay beyond.

2009. Barnett Park Walkway Pigs Ear, Cotyledon orbiculata, (from Namaqualand), Port Hills, Christchurch

Red-flowering Pigs Ear, Cotyledon orbiculata, grew amongst rocks and native scrub, some smothered by native Muehlenbeckia creeper. Valley-sides were full of caves, and I passed below a cave which had rock-climbing pitons attached to the cave roof and rock wall above the cave. I passed another wooden bench below a bluff, and dodged dog crap on the path.

2009. Barnett Park Walkway view of valley towards misty Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

2009. Barnett Park Walkway view of valley Caves, Port Hills Christchurch

2009. Barnett Park Walkway valley head Caves, Port Hills, Christchurch

2009. Caves at valley head of Barnett Park Walkway, Christchurch

I crossed a wooden footbridge over a gully and passed another wooden bench on my way up. At the valley-head, I climbed a series of 100 wooden steps to the big cave. Beyond, two more big caves loomed, one with its own waterfall.

Sheltered from the chill wind, I lingered in the dry, sandy cave, and coolpixed the cave, narrow valley and Avon-Heathcote Estuary.

2009. Barnett Park Walkway Cave view down valley to Avon- Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

2009. Barnett Park Walkway Cave view of valley, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Southshore Spit & misty Pegasus Bay, Christchurch

2009. Barnett Park Walkway view of native bush & misty valley head, Port Hills, Christchurch

2009. Barnett Park Walkway junction to Eastenders Track & Cave, Port Hills, Christchurch

I walked down the east side of the valley, and dodged more dog drols on the path. I passed a wooden sign pointing up to EASTENDERS TRACK and CAVE. I admired bits of native bush beside the path, but beyond Barnett Park fence on upper slopes cattle grazed tussock grassland.

2009. Barnett Park Walkway, Moncks Spur left. Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Southshore Spit & misty Pegasus Bay backdrop, Christchurch

2009. Bottom of Barnett Park Walkway. Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Southshore Spit backdrop, Christchurch

Further down I passed through gorse again, and sat on a bench and watched a fantail watching me from the banister of a wooden footbridge. Below, I watched a couple walk beside the stream on the valley floor, past cattle and sheep to the end of the paddock, then climb up the west side of the valley and begin their cave walk.

2009. Barnett Park Walkway, Port Hills, Christchurch

At the bottom of the valley, I crossed a wooden footbridge over the stream, by the lower pylon, and returned to my car. The walk took me 1 hr 30 mins.

2009. Moncks Cave off Main Road, Redcliffs, Christchurch. After the 22.02.11 earthquake, the cave entrance was used as a rubble dump

Back on Main Road, I parked at Cave Terrace near Redcliffs New World supermarket to see Moncks Cave, where a man pushed a pram and looked at Moncks Cave with his infant son. Hanging over the cave mouth was an iceplant curtain. (After the 22.02.11 earthquake, New World supermarket was demolished & the cave entrance was used as temp rubble dump). An info board beside Moncks Cave stated:

"Interpreting the past

Here in Redcliffs are three nationally significant architectural sites. Buried in the sandy floors of two caves are traces of the first people who used them for shelter. Nearby is one of the oldest Waitaha settlement sites in Canterbury. From these sites archeologists can interpret information from the past.

2009. Moncks Cave Information, Redcliffs, Christchurch

A changing lifestyle.

About 700 years ago people were living in a large settlement, Rae Kura, among sandhills where the Redcliffs School now is. At about the same time, people used caves like this one for shelter and other activities.

By analysing the material they left behind archeologists have learnt a lot about the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of these early people - the food they ate, the implements they used, and how they made their stone tools.

Radiocarbon dating shows that 600 to 700 years ago people were hunting and eating moa as one of their main foods. They prepared them and ate them in the large cave, Te Ana O Huneraki, Moa-Bone Point Cave further along the Main Road. The cave floor yielded bones of moa, sea mammals, and smaller bird and fish bones.

But by 500 to 600 years ago, people were relying on other food. Here at Moncks Cave the only moa bone found had been worked into artefacts. Nothing suggested the people had been eating moa. The archeologists conclude that moa were no longer available in the area.

Many artefacts and treasures collected from these sites in the nineteenth century are now in the Canterbury Museum..." (CCC)

Like no more moa, in 2009 few Maori lived in upmarket Redcliffs.

Redcliffs was badly damaged by the 22.02.11 earthquake.

2009. Moncks Cave view of Main Road, Redcliffs, Christchurch

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont

1 comment:

Scribe35 said...

Reading this in 2016. I moved to NZ four years ago. I live in nearby Woolston. I usually go to Barnett Park and I always wanted to hike to the caves. Thanks for this account. Maybe, I will:)