Sunday, August 30, 2009

Post Apartheid: Alleman's August 2009 SA Dispatch

In South Africa you now have the season of Great Expectations. The expectation has been created that president Zuma is going to be Father Christmas to the poor. Everyone is suffering with tremendous food, electricity, petrol... prices. So now everyone is striking for higher wages - the mines, army, post office... Of course many businesses have closed down and there is a general downturn in the economy. Whoops! The tax receipts will be down by about 60 to 80 billion Rands. The government has over committed itself on benefits for the unemployed, poor, pregnant... Huge infrastructure developments take place in country. Massive upgrading of roads, airports, new sports stadiums, underground railway for Joburg, new rapid transport systems for the cities...

Other side of the coin is that South Africa is going backwards as a manufacturing country. Now a food importer (first time in a hundred years). Education an absolute shambles. Millions of illegal immigrants streaming across borders. Borders a shambles. Half air force grounded, no pilots, no technical staff. Crime out of control. Crime syndicates thriving. Chinese everywhere. Nigerians everywhere. Government hospitals absolute shambles. Corruption widespread in government. Our neighbour Zimbabwe totally bankrupt and still no real improvement...

Ysterplaat air force base near Milnerton: Next to it has risen Century City, massive mall, offices, flats, (thousands of people)... You will not recognise the Cape Flats. About 2 million people have moved there from the Transkei. We are not counting the Somalis, Nigerians, Congolese, Angolans, Zimbabweans, Chinese...

You had a plot at Pringle Bay. That is also a sizeable small town with its own shopping centre...

See Ysterplaat Air Force Base


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.

See Environment Canterbury

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009. Travis Wetland Walkway, Christchurch


2009. Barkers Lane view of Travis Wetland Waterway parallel to Anzac Drive, Christchurch


2009. Gulls, Travis Wetland Waterway, Barkers Lane, Christchurch

Christchurch was mostly built on ancient swamps, so I parked my car on Barkers Lane, off New Brighton Road, as I wanted to walk around Travis Wetland, which long ago had been Avon River Estuary. Ancient dune encroachment over the estuary mouth had moved Avon River Estuary mouth south-eastwards.

Travis Wetland spring-fed water drained southwards to Avon River through a culvert under New Brighton Road. High tide brackish water flowed northwards along a waterway between Avon River and Travis Wetland.


2009. Noxious Fish Sign, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Pukeko, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Canada Goose, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Waterway, Anzac Drive, Christchurch

At a small wooden pier I snapped a noxious fish sign: Rudd; Koi carp; Gambusia (mosquito fish); catfish. I snapped waterbirds: pukekos; gulls; black swans; Canada geese; ducks, then I walked the grassy track towards Travis Wetland, with houses on my right and the waterway with noisy Anzac Drive on my left. Native plantings lined the track. On a creek boardwalk, I heard irritating Anzac Drive traffic noise.


2009. Boardwalk, Travis Wetland Waterway, opposite Anzac Drive, Christchurch


2009. Canada Geese, Travis Road, Christchurch


2009. Swamped Willows, Travis Wetland, Frosts Road, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Road Sign, Frosts Road, Christchurch

I crossed busy Anzac Drive traffic circle towards Frosts Road with QEII Golf Park on my right. On Frosts Road / Travis Road corner, I coolpixed foraging Canada geese, then I walked up Frosts Road with Travis Wetland inundated willows close to my left and Queen Elizabeth 11 Park on my right.

Although Frosts Road had a tarsealed track beside the golf course, on Travis Wetland side I waded through muddy grass and litter: fruit peels; paper; cardboard; aluminium cans; plastic packets and bottles; plastic hub caps. I picked up 3 golf balls and wondered how many golf balls were in Travis Wetland? A road sign stated:

TRAVIS
WETLAND
TURN
LEFT
300m


2009. Travis Wetland Sign, Frosts Road Entrance, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Rules, Christchurch

Further along Frosts Road, by the park entrance a navy blue sign with a pukeko pic stated:

TRAVIS WETLAND
NATURE HERITAGE PARK


2009. Native Plantings & Willows, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Pukeko Road Sign, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Gate Signs, Travis Wetland, Christchurch. Info Kiosk Backdrop

The pukeko was Christchurch's emblem. I walked along a gravel road to the info kiosk past a sign stating: "Pedestrians welcome during daylight." Beyond a pukeko road sign, a wooden gate had prohibition signs stating:

NO DOGS. Many birds rest, nest and feed on the ground and are easily harmed.

NO BIKES

AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT


2009. Travis Wetland Info Board, near Info Kiosk, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland, Save the Swamp, Info Kiosk, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Info Board, Info Kiosk, Christchurch

By the carpark, I looked at a TRAVIS WETLAND info board, with prohibitions, and WARNING POISON Brodifacoum for rats & mice sign. I went to the public loo. I lingered in the info kiosk, glancing at info boards giving the history and ecology of Travis Wetland. I looked at Travis Wetland through kiosk windows.


2009. Bird Hide Track, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Bird Hide, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Bird Hide Southern View, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Bird Hide North-Western View, Christchurch

I walked a gravel road to Travis Wetland Bird Hide. I passed another noxious fish sign: Rudd... Around swamped willow trunks I saw Azolla aquatic ferns. In the Bird Hide I looked at 5 info boards: waders; ducks; bird guide; swans, geese, shags and gulls; other birds of Travis Wetland.

Through Hide windows I looked at birds: pukekos; Canada geese; black swans; scaups; paradise shelducks... Two early swallows with rufous breasts flew in and out of the Hide. I coolpixed Travis Wetland through Hide windows.


2009. Wading Pukeko, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Farm Shed, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland view of Port Hills, Christchurch


2009. Tavis Wetland paths, Christchurch

I walked northwards along a gravel track around Travis Wetland towards Mairehau Road, past houses on my right, and in the wetland: masses of bullrushes, willows and a derelict corrugated-iron farm shed.

An old man and several women pushing prams walked briskly past, while I deleted old coolpix from my Nikon memory card. I passed many pukekos and Canada geese while they foraged in the grassy swamp.


2009. Travis Wetland seen from Mairehau Road, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland southern view. Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch


2009. Pukeos foraging, Travis Wetland. Port Hills backdrop, Christchurch

From Mairehau Road, I looked over bullrushes and tussock sedges towards distant Port Hills. On Travis Wetland's northern edge, I passed another Travis Wetland info board, with prohibitions, and Warning Poison Brodifacoum for rats & mice sign.

I passed through a wooden gate into Anne Flanagan Dell, filled with swamped willows and native bush curving around the northern edge of Travis Wetland. I walked a boardwalk, while thinking about Anne Flanagan who'd campaigned to Save the Swamp from housing development.

I watched two Australian harriers (swamp harriers) Circus approximans, soaring above the swamp, searching for prey.


2009. Travis Wetland Gate to Anne Flanagan Dell, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Boardwalk near Anne Flanagan Dell, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Boardwalk Eastern View, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Boardwalk near Viewing Tower, Christchurch

Along another meandering boardwalk over rushes and tussock sedges, 3 codgers passed me, blowing in the wind, while I coolpixed southern views over Travis Wetland to the Port Hills.

I caught up with the codgers at the metal Viewing Tower. A woman jogger puffed past, and another woman pushing a pram strode past. I pushed past 2 teenage boys blocking my way up the Viewing Tower.

On top, 2 info boards described the history of Travis Wetland and the value of willows as nursery trees for native plantings like kahikatea black pines. Over the years, female willows would be destroyed to make way for native swamp trees.


2009. Travis Wetland Viewing Tower, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Viewing Tower Profile, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Landscape History, top of Viewing Tower, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Viewing Tower view, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Willows & Native Trees Conservation, Christchurch

Several men passed me along the gravel track, and a man pushing his dad in a wheelchair passed too. I walked past houses on my right with views over the swamp. I passed a metal gate showing a track through the swamp back to the Bird Hide.

I passed through another wooden gate into Clarevale Reserve, where I watched pukekos foraging on grass by Travis Country Drive. I read another Travis Wetland info board, with prohibitions, and Warning Poison Brodifacoum for rats and mice sign.


2009. Foraging Pukeko, Travis Wetland, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Bench Plaque, Suzanne Quirk, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland, Christchurch



2009. Travis Wetland Native Plantings, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Track to Bird Hide, Christchurch

I continued southwards along Travis Wetland perimeter track, and passed a bench with a bronze plaque remembering Suzanne Quirk. I'd passed several benches beside the walkway and several navy blue plastic poles with white numbers on top, showing Christchurch City Council self-guided walk stops. I coolpixed a cattle paddock in the swamp: cattle hooves churned mud, for waterbirds hunting prey.


2009. Travis Wetland Cattle Paddock, Christchurch


2009. Track between Travis Wetland & Travis Road, Christchurch


2009. Travis Road Culvert view of Travis Wetland, Christchurch

I joined a tarsealed track beside busy Travis Road, which went eastwards towards Anzac Drive traffic circle. I stopped at Travis Road culvert and watched ducks swimming into the swamp. Canada geese still foraged on the grass at Travis Road / Frosts Road corner.


2009. WW1 "Poppies Over Gallipoli" Plaque, Anzac Drive / Travis Road Corner, Christchurch


2009. WW1 "Poppies Over Gallipoli" Memorial, Anzac Drive / Travis Road Corner, Christchurch

On the opposite Travis Road / Anzac Drive corner, I stopped to see the iron "Poppies Over Gallipoli" memorial: I read a bronze memorial plaque on a stone, and looked at the 6 giant red poppies on iron poles joined by 6 rusty iron strips below, on which Kemal Ataturk's 1934 Anzac Cove memorial words were cut, so that light shone through iron words:

"These heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives,

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

Therefore rest in peace.

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.

You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are at peace.

After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well."


2009. Travis Wetland Waterway, Anzac Drive, Christchurch


2009. Travis Wetland Waterway, Barkers Lane, Christchurch

Back at my car, I'd finished the walk in about 3 hours, with many coolpix and birdwatching stops.


2009. Travis Wetland Waterway, New Brighton Road, Christchurch

Coda: During the 2010-2011 Christchurch quakes, Barkers Ln, New Brighton Rd, Anzac Dr, Travis Rd, Frosts Rd, Mairehau Rd, side roads & houses were damaged, due to quake shaking & liquefaction. Damage by liquefaction was widespread in Christchurch, wherever there was river water, swamp water or groundwater.

Content & pics Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.

See Noxious Fish NZ: Rudd; Koi Carp; Gambusia (Mosquito fish); Catfish (DOC)