Thursday, June 4, 2009

2009. McCormacks Bay and Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

2009. Mount Pleasant Yacht Club near Ferrymead Bridge, Avon-Heathcote Estuary. Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch. Ferrymead Bridge was damaged by the 22.02.11 earthquake

2009. Mount Pleasant Yacht Club, Avon-Heathcote Estuary near Ferrymead Bridge. Horotane Valley & Avoca Valley backdrop, Port Hills, Christchurch. Ferrymead Bridge was damaged by the 22.02.11 earthquake

2009. Cobb Cottage near Mount Pleasant Yacht Club, Main Road, Christchurch. Cobb Cottage was damaged by the 22.02.11 earthquake

As I wanted to walk McCormacks Bay shore, I parked my car at Mount Pleasant Yacht Club near Ferrymead Bridge. I looked at nearby Cobb Cottage on Main Road, reputed to have belonged to Nelson's cabin boy, HMS Victory.

As Avon-Heathcote Estuary was low tide, I hopped onto mudflats to coolpix white faced herons and South Island pied oystercatchers pecking mud for prey.

2009. White Faced Heron on mudflats, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

2009. Coffee Truck, Main Road by Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

I crossed Main Road to McCormacks Bay Road, and walked through McCORMACKS BAY RESERVE, with Mount Pleasant housing rising steeply up Port Hills on my right.

McCormacks Bay & Mount Pleasant housing was damaged by the 22.02.11 earthquake. All roads described & sewage system were badly quake damaged too.

2009. McCormacks Bay view of Mount Pleasant, Port Hills, Christchurch

2009. McCormacks Bay Drain, McCormack Bay Road, Christchurch

As it was low tide, I walked McCormacks Bay mud amongst millions of mudflat snails Amphibola crenata. I examined some, which closed their operculums when picked up. Native plantings beside the shore path obscured McCormacks Bay Road traffic noise, but noisy causeway traffic was annoying.

2009. Low Tide McCormacks Bay. Balmoral Hill backdrop, Christchurch

2009. Duckboard Bridge, Low Tide McCormacks Bay. Balmoral Hill backdrop, Christchurch

While I walked McCormacks Bay shore path, I saw mallard ducks, paradise shelducks, gulls and white faced herons. The shore had a mat of russet, grey-green glassworts and smelly, decaying sea-lettuce Ulva lactuca.

I passed several wooden benches and concrete drain pipes, and crossed a duckboard bridge over a ditch. On a wooden bench with a warm north-facing view, a plaque stated:

"In proud memory of my son

Killed in Fiordland while attempting an alpine rescue
The ultimate sacrifice
Once, for us, the sun used to shine. Jack W. Taylor"

2009. Northwards view of low tide McCormacks Bay, Christchurch

Near the end of McCormacks Bay shore I crossed a wooden footbridge over a creek, and crossed two rugby paddocks in McCormacks Bay Reserve, where Australian magpies pecked boot-studded mud.

I passed a petanque pitch, and looked at an estuary culvert pipe which went under the causeway. I'd dawdled beside McCormacks Bay for an hour, enjoying birdwatching.

2009. Westwards view of low tide McCormacks Bay & Causeway. Mount Pleasant backdrop

2009. Redcliffs, Beachville Road carpark view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch. The carpark was badly cracked by the 22.02.11 earthquake

2009. Redcliffs Beach for Windsurfers & Non Powered Craft, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

I crossed Main Road by the cutting, and walked downriver along Beachville Road by Avon-Heathcote Estuary. Near REDCLIFFS PARK, I looked at grey gulls standing at a carpark by Redcliffs pebbly beach, wooden pier and boat ramp. (The carpark was badly cracked by the 22.02.11 earthquake).

A red and black CCC sign stated:


2009. Sewage Pollution Sign, Redcliffs Beach, Christchurch. "Stormwater" euphemism for arsenic, cadmium & other heavy metal pollution from Christchurch industries, past & present

I wondered why Christchurch City Councillors allowed that? Two male joggers and an estuarine kayaker passed me while I read another sign:


2009. Safe Boating Sign, Redcliffs Beach, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

Another sign on the pier stated:


2009. Redcliffs Park, with Redcliffs backdrop, Port Hills, Christchurch. Tons of rock fell from Redcliffs during the 22.02.11 earthquake, causing housing damage

Down Beachville Road, I wondered why some posh houses hogged the shoreline, and why The Queens Chain ruling didn't apply, as properties obscured the shore. Some houses had nasty KEEP OUT PRIVATE PROPERTY signs. No wonder Maori got excited about traditional fishing rights.

2009. Avon-Heathcote Estuary Sea Wall, with Moncks Bay, Clifton Hill & Scarborough backdrop, Christchurch. Sea Wall was damaged by the 22.02.11 earthquake

I walked downriver along the sea wall by Avon-Heathcote Estuary, and watched a pied cormorant quickly floating by on the incoming tide. Several women walkers passed me while I snapped gulls perching on the sea wall. (Damaged by the 22.02.11. earthquake). A Caspian tern fished by repeatedly flying up and diving into the water.

2009. Black Backed Gull, Avon-Heathcote Estuary Sea Wall, Beachville Road, Christchurch

2009. Beachville Reserve Carpark, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, with Southshore Spit, Shag Rock, Clifton Hill & Scarborough backdrop, Christchurch

I stopped at Beachville Reserve and looked at Shag Rock across the water by Avon-Heathcote Estuary mouth. (Shag Rock was shattered and crumbled by 04.09.10 and 22.02.11 earthquakes).

At a dairy on Beachville Road / Main Road corner I bought a $2 rum and raisin icecream cone, then wandered back to enjoy views of Southshore Spit, Moncks Bay, Shag Rock, houses on Clifton Hill and beyond to Scarborough.

2009. Redcliffs School, Main Road, Redcliffs, Christchurch - site of an ancient Maori settlement. Redcliffs School was temp closed after the 22.02.11 earthquake due to rockfalls. After the 13.06.11 quake, Redcliffs School temp relocated to Sumner School

2009. Redcliffs, Main Road, Christchurch. Tons of rock fell from Redcliffs during the 22.02.11 earthquake, changing the cliff face & damaging houses

I returned to my car along Main Road, past housing, BP garage, St Andrews Anglican Church, Redcliffs School and Moa-Bone Point Cave. I stopped to snap rock layers above Redcliffs housing: sand baked into red tuff by larva, interspersed by volcanic basalt.

A pine perched on top of a cliff above Moa-Bone Point Cave, closed with a fence cordon. CCC allowing buildings on clifftops to weigh down rocks above Moa-Bone Point Cave was crazy.

The 2010 & 2011 earthquakes showed up stupid Council, surveyors, architects, engineers, builders & home buyers, as many cliff top houses were quake damaged, and Redcliffs bottom houses were quake damaged by falling rocks.

2009. Moa-Bone Point Cave, Main Road, Redcliffs, Christchurch. Clifftop house was damaged by the 22.02.11 quake & demolished

2009. Moa-Bone Point Cave, Main Road, Redcliffs, Christchurch. See SA Iceplants & Cotyledons on cliff. Clifftop house was damaged by the 22.02.11 quake & demolished

2009. Causeway between McCormacks Bay left & Avon-Heathcote Estuary right, Christchurch. Causeway was damaged by the 22.02.11 earthquake

Back at the cutting, I stopped to coolpix the causeway, then walked along the causeway. I would've liked to walk estuary mud to see the ecosystem, but incoming tide stopped that, with deep water rapidly rising by the causeway.

On the causeway concrete bridge culvert, I stopped for a while to watch water flood into McCormacks Bay. On the other side of the bridge a pied cormorant perched on a pole, while I snapped signs on the bridge fence.

2009. Causeway Bridge Culvert, McCormacks Bay. Mount Pleasant backdrop, Christchurch

2009. High Tide flooding McCormacks Bay, seen from Causeway Bridge Culvert. Mount Pleasant backdrop, Christchurch

At the end of the causeway, I watched a white faced heron and ducks by another estuary culvert pipe. Tarsealed walks were hard on my feet and knees. I preferred unsealed paths.

Walk time: 2.5 hours.

2009. Shag by McCormacks Bay Causeway Bridge Culvert, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch

2009. Signs at McCormacks Bay Causeway Bridge Culvert, Avon- Heathcote Estuary. Southshore Spit & Balmoral Hill backdrop, Christchurch

Coda: As much of Christchurch's sewage system was destroyed by the 2010-2011 earthquakes, Avon River & Heathcote River were used as open sewers, while sucker trucks unclogged drains & sewage pipes & workmen did repairs. It would take years to clean badly polluted Avon-Heathcote Estuary.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Moa-Bone Point Cave (Christchurch City Libraries)

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