Thursday, July 23, 2009
2009. Southshore Spit, Christchurch
2009. Kibblewhite Reserve low tide, westwards view of Avon Estuary, Bexley Wetland & Southern Alps
I parked my car at the end of Kibblewhite Street with splendid views westwards over Avon Estuary to snowy Southern Alps, as I wanted to walk Avon-Heathcote Estuary shore to the end of Southshore Spit and return along Southshore Beach, Pegasus Bay side of Southshore Spit.
2009. Bridge Reserve eastwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
In Kibblewhite Reserve I walked south-eastwards through pines and macrocarpas, and crossed Bridge Street near South Brighton Bridge to Bridge Reserve, where someone had pruned macrocarpas and left heaps of whippy branches trackside.
I selected a dry branch and finessed it into a walking stick, my first walking stick in all my Christchurch river walks and Port Hills walks.
2009. Bridge Reserve low tide, eastwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
Below more pines and macrocarpas I walked a gravel track beside Avon Estuary, which widened into Avon-Heathcote Estuary on my right, with distant views of Port Hills across Avon-Heathcote Estuary.
Along the meandering track I passed South New Brighton School hidden by trees on my left, then I passed South Brighton Bowling Club with views across Avon-Heathcote Estuary of Bromley Oxidation Ponds, a sewage farm; Pleasant Point Yacht Club; South Brighton Bridge and snowy Alps.
2009. South New Brighton Park low tide, westwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch
2009. South New Brighton Park low tide, eastwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. South New Brighton Park low tide, westwards view of Wooden Pier, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch. Pleasant Point Yacht Club & South Brighton Bridge right
Further on in South New Brighton Park, a wooden pier pointed across Avon-Heathcote Estuary to Christchurch CBD and the Port Hills. By the pier and powerboat ramp I coolpixed a sign stating:
AVON-HEATHCOTE ESTUARY / IHUTAI
REQUIREMENTS FOR SAFE BOATING...
On the estuary bank another sign warned: 5 KNOTS FOR ALL POWERED CRAFT.
2009. Avon-Heathcote Estuary Safe Boating Sign, South New Brighton Park, Christchurch
Early afternoon low tide, I walked along the gravel track and watched a pretty blonde on a mudflat throwing sticks for her dog. Further on, she jogged past while I coolpixed a red, black, white sign stating:
TREATED SEWAGE AND STORMWATER
ARE DISCHARGED INTO THIS ESTUARY...
2009. Sewage Health Warning Sign, South New Brighton Park, Christchurch
Despite pine trees overhead, I felt I was sludging through a giant toilet, thanks to the excremental vision of city councillors and engineers. Three furtive teenage girls passed. I wondered if they were bunking school?
(During & after 2010-2011 quakes, Heathcote River, Avon River & Avon-Heathcote Estuary were used as open sewers, as Bromley oxidation works was clogged with liquefaction mud & Christchurch sewage pipes were damaged with cracks & liquefaction mud. For months afterwards, sewage sucker trucks drove around Christchurch, clearing broken, clogged sewage pipes).
2009. South New Brighton Park low tide, eastwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Boardwalk, South New Brighton Park: Salt Marsh left, Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mudflats right, Christchurch
Beyond pines the track entered a salt marsh full of sea rushes, Juncus maritimus. I walked a boardwalk with sea rushes and houses on my left and low tide estuary mudflats and distant Moncks Bay, Clifton Hill, Redcliffs and Mount Pleasant in the Port Hills on my right. On the shoreline I read a flora / fauna info board:
19 species of birds on the estuary are international migrants from the Arctic. The most common is the Eastern Bartailed Godwit. Others include the Asiatic Dowitcher, American and Asiatic Whimbrels, Alaskan and Siberian Tattlers and the Lesser Knot. Arctic migrants spend a third of their lives in New Zealand, a third in distant parts of the world and a third flying between the two. For the Godwit this may involve an annual round trip of 26 000 kilometres!
2009. Guide to Birdwatching, South New Brighton Park Sign, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch
The Avon-Heathcote Estuary is at the southern end of a migration route called the Eastern Asian Flyway. Numbers of birds reaching the estuary are influenced by conditions along the Flyway.
Over 2000 Godwits reach the estuary each year. The first arrive in the third week of September and numbers peak in November. The birds remain at the estuary until March and April when they again leave for the Arctic. Before migrating north they become restless, often circling the estuary in excited flocks performing massed aerobatics that are very impressive to watch..." (CCC)
2009 Bird International Migrants Sign, South New Brighton Park, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch
The Avon-Heathcote Estuary info board warned against frightening estuary birds, and described the estuary food web including plants, more birds, fish, molluscs and crustaceans like: whitebait (inanga); kahawai; yellow-eyed mullet, cockabully; sole; flounder; whelks; limpets; barnacles; crabs.
2009. Flora / Fauna Sign, South New Brighton Park, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch
The info board SINGLE CELLED PLANTS section stated:
"In the sunlit 1-2cm of the sediments are microscopic single-celled plants called algae. In the sheltered wet food-rich estuary these can grow extremely quickly. When nutrients are plentiful they 'bloom' colouring the surface of the mud. Euglena has a yellowish green bloom and diatom blooms are golden brown or chocolate brown..." (CCC)
2009. Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mudflats, eastwards Port Hills view, Christchurch
2009. Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mudflats, westwards view to South New Brighton Park, Christchurch
Southshore Spit narrowed at the end of Ebbtide Street, where the estuary gravel track petered out by houses lining Avon-Heathcote Estuary. As it was low tide I walked in front of houses on a long stretch of Avon-Heathcote Estuary mudflats. Houses had concrete blocks and rubble protecting gardens and boat ramps from water erosion. Some houses had small boats on the shore.
(The 2010-2011 quakes would destroy many of those Southshore houses lining Avon-Heathcote Estuary. The area would be red zoned & the houses demolished).
2009. Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mudflats view of Mount Pleasant & some Port Hills Peaks, Christchurch
2009. Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mudflats eastwards view of Mount Pleasant & Redcliffs, Christchurch
2009. Avon-Heathcote Estuary Boat, westwards view of Mudflats, Christchurch
2009. Mudflat Snails, Amphibola crenata, Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch
I walked by millions of mudflat snails, Amphibola crenata, and watched ducks, gulls and south island pied oystercatchers foraging in the mud. Along the way I passed several Southshore cul de sacs. Each street had stormwater drainpipes flushing into the estuary.
As I was walking on golden brown slime on the mudflats, I hoped it was diatom bloom and not Bromley oxidation ponds discharge.
2009. Low Tide Boats, Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mudflats, with Mount Pleasant view, Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Cul de Sac Stormwater Drain from Southshore Spit into Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch
Near the end of the mudflats, as my hearing-aid was switched off I didn't hear or see a big brown bitch bounding up to me. Looking up I saw the bitch in mid leap.
I poked the bitch's chest with my walking stick, stopping the bitch in mid-flight, yelling, "NO DOG! THAT'S BAD!" The latter for Lemon-Lips Lady letting her bitch attack me.
Further on I saw a DOG BYLAW AREAS sign which expected dogs to be controlled in the BIRD ROOSTING AREA. The bylaw expected dogs to be leashed on Spit Reserve paths, but let dogs run in a corridor below dunes and close inshore. Dogs were prohibited on large mudflat areas.
2009. Dog Bylaw Areas Sign, Southshore Spit, Christchurch
At the Spit Reserve entrance a BIRD ROOSTING AREA sign stated:
"Please keep your dog on a leash past this point.
This area is nationally and internationally important as a feeding and resting area for migrating birds. The bartailed godwit lives here between September and April before migrating to Siberia and Alaska during winter to breed.
These birds need to rest
Every time they are forced to fly they burn up valuable fat. They need this fat to power their long-distance migration otherwise they may die from exhaustion along the way.
* keep your dog on a leash
* give the birds a wide berth
* walk close to the base of the dunes." (CCC)
2009. Bird Roosting Area Sign, Southshore Spit, Christchurch
Nearby a wooden sign stated:
ACCESS TO ESTUARY EDGE
TO ROCKINGHORSE RD. ONLY AT LOW TIDE
HIGH TIDE TRACK TO
ROCKINGHORSE RD. END ->
2009. Rockinghorse Road Sign, Southshore Spit, Christchurch
2009. Southshore Loop Track, Southshore Spit, with Mount Pleasant backdrop, Christchurch
Further on by a SOUTHSHORE SPIT LOOP TRACK sign, I left the mudflats and walked a sandy dune track around the end of Southshore Spit. On the estuary side, a plaque on a wooden bench stated:
"Rest and reflect on the beauty of the estuary and our enduring debt to RICHARD KEITH WRIGHT..."
2009. Bench Plaque, RK Wright, Southshore Spit, Christchurch
2009. Southshore Spit westwards view over Avon-Heathcote Estuary to Southern Alps
2009. Southshore Spit westwards view over Avon-Heathcote Estuary to Redcliffs, Christchurch
2009. Wooden Footbridges near end of Southshore Spit. Clifton & Scarborough backdrop, Christchurch
I crossed three wooden footbridges over a bit of glasswort and searush saltmarsh, and saw that a recent fire had thinned out vegetation. I wondered how many bartailed godwits had valuable fat burned up in the fire? At the end of Southshore Spit by a swing under a pine tree, I crossed a dune to coolpix Avon-Heathcote Estuary mouth high tide waters flooding in. I snapped Shag Rock across the mouth with Clifton Sea Cliff backdrop. In the distance I saw Scarborough and Banks Peninsula pointing into the Pacific.
2009. End of Southshore Spit westwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Redcliffs, Christchurch
2009. End of Southshore Spit view of Moncks Bay, Avon-Heathcote Estuary (July)
2009. Purple Groundsel, Senecio elegans, end of Southshore Spit (September)
2009. End of Southshore Spit southern view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mouth, Shag Rock, Clifton Sea Cliff & Scarborough (July)
2009. End of Southshore Spit southern view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mouth, Shag Rock, Clifton Sea Cliff & Scarborough (September)
2009. End of Southshore Spit southern view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary Mouth & Clifton Sea Cliff, Christchurch
On Pegasus Bay side of Southshore Spit, I found another wooden bench amongst dunes. A memorial plaque stated the good works of TRICIA URCH preserving Southshore dunes and reserves.
2009. Bench Plaque, Tricia Urch, Southshore Spit, Christchurch
2009. Southshore Spit southern view of Sumner Beach, Cave Rock & Scarborough, Christchurch
Along Southshore Beach I walked back to my car, while high tide waves rolled up to the high tide mark. I passed Lemon-Lips Lady again while her bitch stood stock-still, staring at me, while Lemon-Lips Lady made no eye contact.
Near the end of Southshore Spit, several dogwalkers walked their dogs. A pesky Huntaway tried gnawing my walking stick, so I threw driftwood sticks for it to fetch. Huntaway Lady first smiled, then yelled at her dog, then glared at me for throwing sticks for her dog.
2009. Southshore Beach, Tern Street Walkway through Southshore Spit Dunes, Christchurch
On my way back along the beach in Southshore Beach Park, I passed another Dog Bylaw Areas sign and another Bird Roosting Area sign, and by Tern Street walkway through dunes I passed another Dog Bylaw Areas sign and another red, black, white Health Warning sign about treated sewage and stormwater discharge into nearby Avon-Heathcote Estuary.
2009. Southshore Beach Park south-eastwards view of Scarborough, Godley Head & Banks Peninsula
2009. Dead Shag, Southshore Beach, Southshore Spit, Christchurch
I passed driftwood, kelp, shells, dead crabs, a dead shag, a dead barracouta (?) with sharp teeth, washed up by the Pacific. I passed several walkways through spit dunes with chain-linked wooden boards over dunes.
2009. H Toopi's RIP Wooden Cross, Southshore Beach, Southshore Spit, Christchurch
Below spit dunes I passed another Health Warning sign, and Harley Toopi's white wooden cross: RIP, which overlooked Pegasus Bay. After walking Southshore Beach for an hour with New Brighton Pier getting closer, I crossed a dune to Jellico Street, and walked past houses to South New Brighton Park again.
I walked on pine needles in the pine forest, and looked at cables attached high in pines for adventure play. As high tide had filled Avon-Heathcote Estuary again, I coolpixed high tide waters where I'd seen mudflats three hours before.
2009. South New Brighton Park high tide, south-eastwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. South New Brighton Park high tide, westwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary, Christchurch
By macrocarpa prunings again, as my walking stick was worn in and had proved its point against an aggressive bitch, I searched for two more sticks for Leah and Luke. While I rummaged, blokes on bikes and joggers passed.
Southshore Spit walk took me 4 hours.
2009. Bridge Reserve high tide, south-eastwards view of Avon-Heathcote Estuary & Port Hills, Christchurch
2009. Kibblewhite Reserve high tide view of Avon Estuary, Bexley Wetland & Southern Alps
Coda: During the 2010-2011 earthquakes, greater Christchurch, incl Bexley, Southshore Spit, Mt Pleasant, Clifton, Sumner, Scarborough... were extensively quake damaged.
During aftershocks 2012, as estuarine wetlands were quake sunk & trees quake damaged, pine & macrocarpa trees in South New Brighton Reserves were felled, from South New Brighton School to Kibblewhite St & replaced with pines & indigenous trees. (CCC Info Leaflet, 27 April 2012).
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont