I parked my car at the end of Avonside Drive near Avondale Road Bridge, as I wanted to walk New Brighton's Jubilee Walk down Avon River, then walk around Avon Estuary via South Brighton Bridge and Bexley Wetland, then walk upriver on the other side of the Avon.
2009. Avondale Road Bridge downriver view of Avon River Kayakers, Christchurch
I crossed busy Saturday afternoon Avondale Road Bridge to busy New Brighton Road, and watched 4 one-man outrigger kayaks paddle downriver. I walked along a tarsealed track past native plantings and poplars. The track left New Brighton Road and went through Amelia Rogers Reserve. By a small wooden pier, the tarsealed track morphed into a gravel track.
2009. Amelia Rogers Reserve downriver view of Avon River, Christchurch. This photo was published as a before 2010-2011 quakes pic in Deb Donnell's book, Christchurch New Zealand, Comparing 2014 to Pre-Earthquake. Deb's 2014, after 2010-2011 quakes pic showed Amelia Rogers Reserve trashed by the quakes
I passed more native plantings: griselinias; corokias; totaras; kanukas; hebes; flax; cabbage trees; Coprosma robusta with orange berries; poroporo with creamy-yellow berries; dodoneas; ribbonwoods; olearias; pittosporums; tussock grass. The plethora of native plantings, most of which I'd seen growing "wild" on the Port Hills, obscured the Avon. There were alders and poplars too.
2009. Enhancement of Avon River Bank, upriver of Anzac Drive Bridge, Christchurch
2009. Enhancement of Avon River Bank near Amelia Rogers Reserve, Christchurch
Walkers, joggers and cyclists passed me. By a tributary creek near the end of Amelia Rogers Reserve, I saw muddy riverbank excavations, and wooden footbridge and gravel path construction sitework done by Calcon.
Back on New Brighton Road pavement, a Christchurch City Council sign stated: "Waterway Enhancement and Reserve Development.." I'd have to return later, as the "enhancement" was a sludgy mess.
2009. New Brighton Road downriver view of Avon River & Anzac Drive Bridge, Christchurch
I walked below busy Anzac Drive Bridge, and further on by Barkers Lane I crossed a concrete tarsealed footbridge over tributary water from Travis Wetland. I crossed New Brighton Road to coolpix Canada geese in the swamp.
** 2009. Travis Wetland Tributary into Avon River, view from New Brighton Road, Christchurch
2009. Avon River downriver view of Wainoni Road Bridge, Christchurch
With noisy New Brighton Road on my left and Avon River on my right, I walked briskly to Bower Park, roadside left, and Wainoni Road Bridge. Christchurch's wintry, wet Mediterranean climate ensured that I made the most of sunny winter days.
Despite the sun and blue sky, I walked in beanie, scarf, T shirt, 2 jerseys, mittens, tracksuit longs and jandals. I crossed busy Wainoni Road Bridge, and watched 3 fishermen trying their luck by the bridge.
Riverbank track became gravel again, and a riverside signboard stated:
<- 2.3 km TO ESTUARY WALK
Below, a green and white sign stated:
CONSTRUCTED BY COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS FOR THE 125th JUBILEE OF NEW BRIGHTON, DECEMBER 1985
Next to the Jubilee Walk sign, a black marble plaque on a concrete block stated:
NEW BRIGHTON WAS NAMED ON THIS SPOT IN 1860 ERECTED BY THE NTH NEW BRIGHTON COMMUNITY
2009. Avon River Jubilee Walk Sign by Wainoni Road Bridge, Christchurch
Below, a bronze plaque stated:
ON THIS SITE THE FIRST
HOUSE IN NEW BRIGHTON
WAS BUILT IN THE YEAR
THIS TABLET WAS ERECTED BY
THE NEW BRIGHTON DISTRICT
THE FIRST CENTENNIAL YEAR
2009. Avon River Jubilee Walk, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Swamp, Jubilee Walk, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Swamp, Jubilee Walk, Christchurch. New Brighton Road backdrop.
I ambled a long stretch of gravel track with New Brighton Road and Cockayne Reserve's flax-tussock-raupo swamp matrixed with cabbage trees and water on my left, and Avon River on my right. Beyond the Avon I had panoramic views of distant Port Hills. Over a tributary creek, I crossed an old wooden footbridge where 2 lumpy ladies jogged by, wafting stale deodorant and sweat.
2009. Avon River Jubilee Walk view of Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Swamp Cabbage Trees, Jubilee Walk, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Jubilee Walk Footbridge, Christchurch
Beyond the swamp, closer to New Brighton Road again, I passed through native and exotic parkland, and stopped by 2 memorial trees. A bronze plaque stated:
ARBOR DAY 1990
PLANTED BY MEMBERS
OF THE FIRST
BURWOOD / PEGASUS
2009. Avon River Jubilee Walk downriver view, Christchurch. Port Hills backdrop
A black granite plaque stated:
PLANTED BY THE PUPILS OF
NEW BRIGHTON DISTRICT SCHOOL
TO COMMEMORATE THE MARRIAGE OF
KING GEORGE V
2009. Avon River Jubilee Walk downriver distant view of Pages Road Bridge, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Jubilee Walk downriver close view of Pages Road Bridge, Christchurch
2009. Pages Road Bridge upriver view of Avon River, Christchurch. New Brighton Road right
2009. Avon River Jubilee Walk Sign by Pages Road Bridge, Christchurch
After crossing busy Pages Road Bridge to Owles Terrace, I saw another Jubilee Walk sign. I walked along the gravel / clay path by Owles Terrace, with widening Avon River and Port Hills views on my right.
At New Brighton Power Boat Club, the Avon took a wide south-eastwards bend towards Avon-Heathcote Estuary and the Port Hills. I read the RULES OF THE RIVER info board, and coolpixed the concrete power boat ramp and aluminium / plastic pontoon boat ramp with its 5 KNOTS warning sign.
2009. New Brighton Power Boat Club, Owles Terrace, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. New Brighton Power Boat Ramp & Pontoon Boat Ramp, Owles Terrace, Avon River, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Bends downriver of New Brighton Power Boat Club, Christchurch. Port Hills backdrop
The downriver clay path followed Evans Avenue, where I saw a -> 11000 VOLT M.E.D. CABLES sign. Another sign pointed in opposite directions:
<- ESTUARY WALK 3.6 km to EBBTIDE St
JUBILEE WALK 2.3 km to WAINONI Rd ->
2009. Avon River Estuary Walk & Jubilee Walk signs near Blighs Garden, Christchurch
2009. Blighs Garden view of Avon Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
I entered Blighs Garden and walked through mature pines with Avon Estuary wetland on my right. While I walked around Avon Estuary I saw many waterfowl: ducks; grey gulls; terns; black swans; white faced herons; Canada geese. A noticeboard with a Christchurch City Council notice stated: "South Brighton Domain and Estuary Corridor Draft Management Plan..."
2009. Blighs Garden downriver view of Avon Estuary Mudflats, South Brighton Bridge & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Avon Estuary Wetlands downriver view. Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch
Further around Avon Estuary another CCC sign stated:
THIS WILDLIFE AREA CONTAINS MANY
NESTING BIRDS AND RARE VEGETATION
DISTURBANCE AWAY FROM FORMED
TRACKS WILL AFFECT THEIR SURVIVAL
** 2009. Avon Estuary downriver view near Kibblewhite Reserve, Christchurch
2009. Bridge Street view of Avon Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
Beyond Kibblewhite Street, I passed through mature pines and macrocarpas in Kibblewhite Reserve to Bridge Street, where I crossed Avon River again on South Brighton Bridge, 1980. There, I saw Avon Estuary merging into Avon-Heathcote Estuary, a kingfisher and a pied shag perched on poles on one bank, and Pleasant Point Yacht Club perched on the opposite bank. Pleasant Point Yacht Club was demolished post 22.02.11 quake.
2009. South Brighton Bridge downriver view of Avon Estuary & Pleasant Point Yacht Club, Christchurch. Port Hills backdrop. Pleasant Point Yacht Club was demolished post 22.02.11 quake. This photo was published as a before 2010-2011 quakes pic in Deb Donnell's book, Christchurch New Zealand, Comparing 2014 to Pre-Earthquakes. Deb's 2014, after 2010-2011 quakes pic showed Pleasant Point Yacht Club absent, just a post demolition mudflat. Deb Donnel used this pic again in her 2015 book, Christchurch, Keswin Publishing Ltd
** 2009. South Brighton Bridge upriver view of Avon Estuary, Christchurch. Blighs Garden backdrop
2009. South Brighton Bridge upriver view of Avon Estuary, Christchurch. Blighs Garden left & Kibblwhite Reserve right backdrop
By South Brighton Bridge I watched kayakers paddling in Avon Estuary, sunlight glistening on the water. I walked a tarsealed track by Bexley Road a bit, before entering Bexley Wetland Conservation Reserve, where the track became gravel again. On a wooden bench overlooking Bexley Wetland, a bronze plaque stated:
THIS PLAQUE ACKNOWLEDGES
BEXLEY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
BEXLEY WETLANDS TRUST, ST JAMES SCHOOL
AND VOLUNTEERS FOR THEIR WORK
IN THE RESTORATION OF BEXLEY WETLAND
2009. Avon Estuary Bexley Wetland view of South Brighton Bridge, Christchurch. Port Hills backdrop
2009. Avon Estuary Bexley Wetland view of Blighs Garden, Christchurch
2009. Avon Estuary Bexley Wetland view of Bexley Road & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Bexley Wetland, Avon Estuary view of Blighs Garden, Christchurch
2009. Avon Estuary Bexley Swamp Houses & Bexley Wetland view of Blighs Garden, Christchurch
I walked along busy Bexley Road some more, then entered Bexley Wetland again, along a gravel track with new houses on my left and wetland on my right, with Port Hills in the distance. I watched ducks and pied stilts foraging food in the mud.
I walked on a newly raised stopbank protecting new swamp houses, and thought if Avon River ever flooded, or a tsunami ever hit the estuary, Bexley swamp houses would be destroyed.
2009. Avon Estuary Bexley Wetland view of Kibblewhite Reserve, Christchurch
** 2009. Avon Estuary Bexley Wetland view of Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Ducks view of Bexley Wetland, Avon Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Pied Stilt, Bexley Wetland, Avon Estuary, Christchurch
2009. Pied Stilt & Duck, Bexley Wetland, Avon Estuary, Christchurch
Beyond Bexley Wetland, I walked upriver along Avon River bank, and watched shags on the opposite mudflat hanging their wings out to dry. By Wairoa Street opposite New Brighton Power Boat Club again, the muddy path reverted to tar. Thereafter I walked tarsealed track all the way upriver to my car.
During 2010-2011 quakes, Bexley Wetland was liquefactioned & houses lining Bexley Wetland were quake trashed & abandoned. The stopbank lining Bexley Wetland housing was raised post 22.02.11 quake. Bexley suburb was severely damaged by the quakes, as much of the burb was below Avon River level.
** 2009. Waterfowl downriver view of Avon River, Blighs Garden & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Avon River Walkway Sign: Bexley Road & South Brighton Bridge, downriver view of New Brighton Power Boat Club, Christchurch
2009. Avon River downriver view of New Brighton Road left & Pages Road Bridge, Christchurch
** 2009. Upriver view of Avon River Walkway between Pages Road Bridge & Wainoni Road Bridge, Christchurch
On my long dawdle behind houses between Pages Road Bridge and Wainoni Road Bridge, late afternoon joggers, walkers and cyclists passed me on the straight track, even a rollerblader using ski poles whizzed by, and an old man on his electric wheelchair rolled his head in greeting as he passed. Several kayakers passed on the Avon.
2009. Downriver view of Avon River Walkway, Waitaki St, between Wainoni Road Bridge & Pages Road Bridge, Christchurch
2009. Jack Hinton VC Reserve, Waitaki St, Avon River, Christchurch
I stopped at Jack Hinton VC rose garden, Waitaki St, where a rock memorial, bronze plaque stated:
JOHN (JACK) DANIEL HINTON VC
20th NEW ZEALAND BATTALION
"This reserve is dedicated to the memory of Jack Hinton VC of the 20th New Zealand Battalion. Jack Hinton was awarded the Victoria Cross for his fearless actions in Kalamata, Greece, 28-29 April 1941, in which he was taken prisoner of war.
2009. Bronze Plaque below Kalamata Memorial Stone, Jack Hinton VC Reserve, Waitaki St, Avon River, Christchurch
In later years Jack Hinton and his wife Molly Hinton retired to Bexley and walked the banks of the Avon River next to this reserve.
The foundation stone above this plaque has been donated by the mayor of Kalamata in recognition of the heroic contributions of Jack Hinton and the allied soldiers."
2009. Downriver view of Avon River near Jack Hinton VC Reserve, Waitaki St, Christchurch
Beyond Wainoni Road Bridge, a 6-woman outrigger skiff went fast upriver. As winter sun was setting, and I was getting cold, I went fast upriver too, under Anzac Drive Bridge, and along riverside Hulverstone Drive, back to my car. The walk took me 3 hours 10 minutes.
2009. Six-Woman Skiff paddling up Avon River near Wainoni Road Bridge, Christchurch
Five months later during warm December Holidays, Leah and I walked Bexey Wetland with more water and more nesting birds: Canada geese, gulls, pukekos, white faced herons, terns, ducks, cormorants. In the swamp we found a bench by Avon River, with a track mosaic showing concrete and stone compass points.
Near Amelia Rogers Reserve, Avon River bank enhancements were improved by new plantings.
Coda: During & after 2010-2011 quakes, stopbanks lining Avon River were raised to stop flooding, as houses were below river level. Bexley area by John Hinton VC Reserve was liquefaction damaged along Waitaki St & Bexley Rd. Houses were built too close to Avon River. Those roads were serial quake trashed, houses broken & red zoned by CERA govt department, forcing home owners to leave. Vast swathes of abandoned housing in red zones, both sides of Avon River, were demolished. Post quakes, red zoning caused 1000s of Cantabrians to be displaced. Never mind all the EQC & insurance hassles for displaced inhabitants. And that didn't include scores of thousands more EQC & insurance repairs & rebuild hassles for citizens in post quake green zones.
** Asterisks by photos show photos used by the Avon River Park, Facebook page, encouraging debate & a petition sent to NZ parliament for the proposed Avon River Park, "From City to Sea," on quake damaged, red zone land beside Avon River. The Avon River Otakaro Park also used the pics in their website.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.