Archive for the ‘Christchurch – wider’ Category

Fairy doorways

Fairy doorways have materialised along the path to Waimairi Beach.  They delight children and adults alike, and remind me of those I found along the riverbank a couple of years ago.

I think the fairies may have been at work in our garden too, as this narcissus has suddenly appeared.  I’m sure it wasn’t there yesterday.


The other day it wasn’t there
today there’s magic everywhere


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Under Alert Level Two we’re allowed to meet with friends again, although hugs are not recommended.  This morning Christine and I walked around McCormack’s Bay where we saw a giant Teddy in a window.

Ruth @ McCormack's Bay (Small)

Ruth at McCormack’s Bay


Giant Teddy in McCormack's Bay Rd (Small)

Teddy in McCormack’s Bay Road

Along Beachville Road the new (and controversial) Redcliffs School is almost complete and planned to be open on 22 June.

Redcliffs School

We came back along the wonderful coastal pathway for morning tea at The Front Room at the Mt Pleasant Community Centre.  It really felt just like old pre-Covid times.  There are now no active cases of the virus anywhere in the South Island, so we can all feel a little more relaxed.

We have resumed our monthly walk
a chance to exercise and talk

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I was missing my regular Sunday beach walk, and suggested we might drive to Sumner.  Under Level Three we’re allowed to drive to the beach for exercise, but the drive should take no more than  ten minutes.  Stephen said: “There’s not much traffic, and if we step on it . . . . ”  Of course dozens of others had the same idea, but we found a car park further along the Esplanade and climbed the steps to the promenade, carefully avoiding touching the handrails.  Crowds of people were out delighting in the sunny morning, many with dogs on leashes and/or children on various wheeled contraptions.

Sunday crowd

I saw five bare-chested men running together and wondered whether they were all from the same bubble.  Some brave souls were enjoying the strong surf.

Surfers at Sumner Bay

At Scarborough the cafè  was doing good takeaway business.  I rejected the possibility of hot chips, tempting though it was.

Takeaways at Scarborough

It’s been weeks since we’ve seen so many people together in one place.  A walk by the sea is balm for the soul at any time, and especially at this time.

It’s good to walk beside the sea
and see companions out and free

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As members of the vulnerable community Stephen and I were glad to take up the offer of an early flu vaccination.  I phoned the Cashel Street Pharmacy yesterday to make sure they had stocks, and was told they had the vaccine and it was available to ‘walk-ins’.  Early this morning we headed down and were told their stock was limited.  I received their third-to-last dose, but they were expecting more later in the day.  As well as the usual form we needed to sign another declaring our eligibility (being over 65).  It seems important to take every precaution we can against Covid 19.

I have some involuntary social isolation because so many local events have been cancelled.  The Heritage Walk I was supposed to lead on 4 April will not now go ahead, and all Jury trials have been cancelled for two months, so no Jury service for me.

This afternoon Cathryn and I went to Sumner.  The weather was just perfect and we enjoyed a walk along the esplanade, lunch with some friends we happened to meet, and a paddle beside Cave Rock.

Surfers near Cave Rock


Cathryn at Sumner Beach

On such a lovely summer day
all virus fears seem far away

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Travis Wetland is always a pleasure to visit.  Today part of the walk was closed for maintenance, but Cathryn and I still enjoyed walking there, admiring the birds, and sitting in the warm sunshine.  We saw pukeko, ducks, a white-faced heron, swans, and many goldfinches.  We also met two friendly cats – not a welcome sight on a wetland path!

Pukeko, large and small

Pukeko scrapping over clover

Ducks on branch

Black swans

A place for birds, a nature wetland
is not supposed to be a petland

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We carefully planned our trip to Akaroa for a day when no cruise ships were due, not knowing then that all ships would be cancelled for the rest of the season.  Our morning tea stop was Little River,where we visited the Craft Station and the wonderful Little River Gallery.

Morning tea at Little River

Later we enjoyed the spectacular view of Akaroa Harbour from Hilltop:

Onawe from Hilltop

In the seaside town of Akaroa we wandered along the esplanade, and were intrigued to see pumpkins growing interlaced between the fence pickets.

Akaroa pumpkins

The small museum has excellent displays, and an opportunity have your photo taken with a penguin.

Ruth with penguin

It was a pleasure to lunch leisurely in warm sunshine.

Lunch in the sunshine

A delicious meal at Tutto Bene in Merivale completed a delightful day.

The news of Covid 19 is a growing concern.   In the U.K. people over 70 are being encouraged to stay home.  Will that soon apply here too?  Today I’ve done no Te Reo and am wondering how long the classes will continue.  If they were stopped because of the virus the decision would be taken out of my hands, and that would be a relief.  I’ll certainly go to this evening’s class, but am uncertain about continuing, especially as I’m not satisfied with my progress, and a couple of extra voluntary tasks have just arrived in my inbox.

So good to have a daughter here
but life is not straightforward I fear



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After the bus dropped us at the Gondola, it took Cathryn and me an hour to walk to the top of the Bridle Path (350 metres, 1,150 feet).

Almost at the top

Made it!

I was breathing heavily and needed a few stops, but was pleased to have managed the climb, especially as it’s five years since I’ve tackled such a steep path. (The last time was the same path with a different daughter.)

There was a cruise ship in Lyttelton Harbour


The sun started to peek through

Going down was easier on the lungs and heart, but the knees felt it, and it took us about 45 minutes.  We then headed for the Lyttelton Market and a seat outside Coffee Culture to enjoy a smoothie and watch people going by.  By this time the cloud had cleared to a warm sunny day.  Lunch was a whitebait fritter sandwich, then we sat at the bus stop and watched yachts crossing the harbour.  A friendly Lyttelton cat crossed the road (!) to say hello.

Feline friend at Lyttelton

There is a good achievement thrill
from walking right across the hill

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Cathryn wanted to see kiwi, so we went to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.  It’s years since I’ve been there, but it’s always appealed to me more than Orana Park.  We were charmed by the fallow deer near the entrance, and by the assorted fowl that run free with no fear of people.

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The farmyard area is delightful, with cows, llamas, sheep, goats, kune kune pigs, and a small Clydesdale.  We loved the Chinese Silkies.  They reminded us of Wing and Wang, who were once members of our household.

After lunch at the cafe where there was a welcome open fire, we explored the New Zeal;and section.  Here we saw many native birds.  Cathryn managed to spy a kiwi in the nocturnal house, but I saw only a shadowy movement.  The tank where the giant eels live gave us a great view of duck feet.

For nature at its friendly best
this is the place to take a guest.

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The ceremony to farewell the godwits/kuaka has been held annually since 1999.  Hundreds of these birds spend the southern summer on the Avon-Heathcote Estuary/Ihutai, and in March they leave Christchurch for an eight day 10,000 km flight to Eastern China.  They rest and feed there before heading on to their breeding grounds in Alaska, a further flight of 7,000 km which takes another five days.  In September they return non-stop from Alaska to Christchurch, at a speed of up to 80 km per hour, taking eight days to cover 11,000 km.  I gather they take a different route on the way back.  Ihutai is one of Aotearoa’s most important coastal wetlands, where extensive mudflats provide food for the godwits and many other birds.

We explored the South Spit before the ceremony.  From here you get a different view of Shag Pile, known before the earthquakes as Shag Rock.

Shag Pile

Hundreds of people had gathered for the ceremony.  There were stalls selling books and cards, a sausage sizzle, and an opportunity for children to paint cut-out godwits.

Painting godwit cut-outs

After a short speech we all trooped down to the shore.  There were approximately 800 godwits on an island in the middle of the estuary, and we watched several groups fly away.

Godwits on island (hard to see, I know)

Cathryn's godwits

Cathryn took a much better photo with her stronger zoom

I’ve heard about this ceremony before and was glad to finally have the chance to be part of it.

The godwits flew north on Sunday
and we wished them well on their way

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Today Christine and I visited the Christchurch Adventure Park.  The park was severely damaged in the Port Hills fires of February 2017 and has since had to be financially rescued by the City Council, i.e. us ratepayers.  It’s intended for those who like extreme thrills such as mountain biking and zip-lining, and to do these you need to pay.  However they also offer a couple of free hiking trails through the pine forest.  We stopped at the attractive cafe for a coffee and smoothie before heading up the shorter trail.

Ruth & Christine at the CAP cafe


Cafe vege garden

The path was easy and smooth although I imagine it might be slippery after rain.  A friend had lent me a walking pole in preparation for walking the Bridle Path with my daughter next month.  This was a good chance to try it out and I found it definitely gave me more stability.

Ruth on the trail with pole

There were a few piwakawaka flitting around the undergrowth at the start of the trail but we were disappointed not to see any other birds.  Perhaps they don’t like pine forests?  Many trees had been damaged in the fires and needed to be cut down.  In several places the stumps had been carved into attractive toadstools.

We saw a few mountain bikers (on a separate trail) and a party coming down the zip-line.  There is a chairlift (the longest in Aotearoa) which takes people and their bikes up to the top of the hill.

Chairlift on ridge


Bicycle ascending on chairlift


Person ascending

The trail we took is one where you have to come back the way you went up.  It’s marked as a 40 minute walk there and back but we were slower and took over an hour.  An alternative steeper track taking two hours (maybe more for me) leads to the top of the hill and you can get a free ride back down on the chairlift (unless this has stopped because of high winds).  This steeper trail might be one to tackle when my daughter is here.  Despite the number of cars in the car park we didn’t see many people.  I imagine the park may be much busier on weekends.

Adventure Park’s the place to hike
or have fun on a mountain bike


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