Friday, August 28, 2009
2009. Waimakariri River Stopbanks and McLeans Forest
2009. McLeans Forest Sign, McLeans Island Road, Christchurch
North of Christchurch, I drove along McLeans Island Road to McLeans Forest beside Waimakariri River, in Waimakariri River Regional Park, opposite Orana Wildlife Park. I wanted to explore huge stopbanks which lined both banks of Waimakariri River to its mouth, thus protecting Christchurch in the south and Kaiapoi and Rangiora in the north from flooding.
2009. Track Directions, Waimakariri River Regional Park, Christchurch
2009. Waimakariri River Regional Park Development Plan, Christchurch
By the carpark under pines I saw spur-winged plovers and bikers coming and going. I stopped to coolpix info boards by the carpark, which described the reclamation of Waimakariri River banks and the gradual extension of Waimakariri River Regional Park from McLeans Forest along both river banks to Waimakariri River mouth by 2012.
2009. Flood Warning, Waimakari River, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Bike & Walking Tracks, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Walking Track, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Beware Golf Balls, McLeans Island Golf Club, Christchurch
2009. Main stopbank, McLeans Island Golf Club, Christchurch
I walked through a pine plantation belt beside McLeans Island Golf Club where a sign warned: BEWARE GOLF BALLS. Three paunchy men lugged their golf carts over the golf course. A male jogger and a couple walking their two leashed beagles passed me. They were the only walkers I saw that early Friday afternoon. Many MTBs passed me on various tracks. Some bikers were kids, and I wondered why they weren't at school?
2009. Bikers, main stopbank, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Waterhole by Waterhole Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Waterhole Road Sign, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I crossed the main stopbank and looped beside a bike track through pines to Waterhole Road and back to the stopbank near a waterhole. In the next couple of hours I'd see several waterholes in McLeans Forest, where water was stored to fight fires.
2009. Main stopbank view of NZ Equestrian Centre Paddock, Christchurch
2009. Main stopbank south-western view of young pines, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I walked westwards along the road on top of the main stopbank. Below on my right were young pines, with gorse infestation between every pine row.
2009. Main stopbank north-western view of Young Pines, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
Trouble with exotic pine plantations was their boring monoculture; no native plant diversity; neglect of noxious weeds like gorse; little bird song. Having passed one straight stripe of pruned pines, after a few minutes all pines looked the same, thousands of them: green pollution. I wondered when Environment Canterbury would plant native riparian trees like kahikatea black pines?
2009. Angle Avenue, Young Pines & Gorse, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I left the 20 degree Centigrade nor'wester by angling right down Angle Avenue, where mature pines sheltered me from dessicating winds. I walked through pines along Norton Avenue, where a smaller stopbank paralleled the main stopbank.
2009. Angle Avenue / Norton Avenue Junction, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Small Stopbanks off Norton Avenue, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I left Norton Avenue along a pine needle track towards the smaller stopbank, where bike and walking tracks became confusing: shingle tracks too close, criss-crossing, and a plethora of bike and walker / jogger plastic signs beside tracks, with many WRONG WAY signs, which irritated me, as I had a good sense of direction.
2009. Small stopbank off Norton Avenue, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. River Loop Track off Norton Avenue & Farm Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I walked westwards along a shingle path on top of the smaller stopbank, with glimpses of farm paddocks through pines on my right. I turned right on RIVER LOOP TRACK, 2 km return, as I wanted to see Waimakariri River. I crossed Farm Road, and strolled along the edge of farm paddocks on my right, with pines on my left.
2009. Farm Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Waimakariri River Flood Warning, River Loop Track, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
In the pine plantation again, I found a direction board and an exclamation mark ! warning sign, with a notice warning about being quickly cut off by flooding Waimakariri River by River Road. Thereafter I looked for unpruned pines for quick climbing.
I continued along the MTB RIVER LOOP TRACK with distant glimpses of Waimakariri River through pines.
2009. Farm Road Gate view of Miners Bank Road Stopbank, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. River Road / Miners Bank Road Corner, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Waimakariri River & Southern Alps, River Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Waimakari River western view, River Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Waimakari River & Alps, River Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I looped through pines back to Farm Road, where I walked west to the gate at the end of the park by Miners Bank Road. I walked along the road to River Road and its end gate at a corner, and coolpixed braided Waimakariri River from the stony river bank, where someone had illegally dumped rubble and rubbish below willows.
Waimakariri River wasn't flooding, but was swollen with brown water snow-melt from distant snowy Alps, westwards over Canterbury Plains.
2009. Waimakari River eastern view, River Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Illegal Dumping by Waimakariri River, River Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Miners Bank Road Stopbank eastern view, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Farm Road Gate, Miners Bank Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Miners Bank Road Stopbank view of Norton Avenue Gate, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
As I didn't want to be bogged by more MTB / walker paths and annoying plastic signs in Waimakariri River Regional Park, I walked back along Miners Bank Road past fencing with wide iron standards and thick iron cables.
I walked along the road on top of the stopbank, parallel to Miners Bank Road. I passed poplars and young pines on my right and older pines and gates at the ends of Farm Road and Norton Avenue on my left.
2009. Main stopbank eastern view of Miners Bank Road & stopbank, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Main stopbank eastern view from Miners Bank Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Waterhole, main stopbank & Miners Bank Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I crossed Miners Bank Road at main stopbank gate, and looked at another waterhole with ducks swimming in it. I watched a SUV raising dust while driving on top of Miners Bank Road stopbank.
As the nor'wester was drying me out, and my CocaCola was being quickly quaffed, I walked back to my car along the top of main stopbank, back through Mcleans Forest.
2009. Main stopbank eastern view, South Poplar Crescent left, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Main stopbank eastern view near Tresillian Road, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I glimpsed Roydvale Pony Club paddock through a pine strip on my right. On my left through pines, I glimpsed the walking track and South Poplar Crescent below main stopbank.
2009. Main stopbank eastern view near Angle Avenue, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
I passed Tresillian Road on my left, and entered an avenue of mature pines beside main stopbank. Spring was in the air, millions of male pine cones opening, releasing pollen to the dry nor'wester. Fallen pollen lined puddles on top of the stopbank.
2009. Bike Track near carpark, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
2009. Bike & Walking Tracks near carpark, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
Leaving pines at Angle Avenue again, I passed NZ Equestrian Centre paddock again, and coolpixed more plastic signs, forcing MTB and walking tracks apart below pines by McLeans Island Golf Club. Compared to pine needles, roots, and dark clay on walking tracks, lighter coloured tracks worn by MTBs showed rapid erosion. Asian ladies lugged their golf carts over the golf course.
2009. Bike Hire Sign, McLeans Forest Carpark, Christchurch
Back at the carpark I went to the public loo. People could hire MTBs at a shed. An info board stated that stopbank and flood protection works had been going on since the 1850s, and much pick and shovel work was done during the 1930s Great Depression, constructing stopbanks beside Waimakariri River.
2009. Waimakariri River Stopbank Information, McLeans Forest, Christchurch
My walk time: 3 hours 15 minutes, many pit stops en route.
Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.
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