Archive for the ‘Taking a Walk’ Category

Last week’s walk was cancelled because of rain, so Christine and I were determined to get out this week even though light rain was forecast. We chose the Opawa River Loop and Hansen Park Walk which I last did 23 years ago. A pā site nearby was once a resting place for Kai Tahu travelling between Kaiapoi and Banks Peninsula. The pā was known as Ōpāwaho which refers to its function as an outpost (waho).

We started at Hansen Park which was originally a flax wetland, and in the early 1900s used as a gravel pit and rubbish dump. From here we went past Rudolf Steiner School, then along to Risingholme Park, home to a thriving Community Centre. A bridge across the stream, with a magnificent fern, led us towards Opawa Road.

Fern beside the bridge

As we are both keen op shoppers we were delighted to discover there is an op shop at the Opawa Community Church, and it was open.

Opawa Community Church

We browsed the well-stocked shop, but neither of us found anything we wanted to buy. One of the staff complimented me on my purple hair.

A seat by the river was an ideal spot for our morning tea. The weather was mild with no wind, and we enjoyed the autumn colours reflected in the river.

River reflections

Back towards Hansen Park we saw a lovely old homestead with a good stack of firewood ready for winter.

Old Opawa homestead

This was a picturesque walk around the river loop with many large older homes, and we met several other walkers, most of whom had canine companions.

This was a tranquil place to walk
and have a pleasant catch-up talk

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This morning Christine and I chose to walk in Regent’s Park. This is an area of north Christchurch, just south of the Styx River, bordering on Northwood. We started at the Sharnbrook Reserve, where there were lovely autumn trees, lots of fungi, and an attractive stream with ducks.

Trees in Sharnbrook Reserve
Mushroom in the reserve
Stream in Sharnbrook Reserve

The reserve is named after Sharnbrook Village and civil parish in the Borough of Bedford in England. The name is probably of Saxon origin. ‘Sharnbrook’ means ‘dung brook’. The Domesday Book of 1086 holds the earliest recorded evidence of Sharnbrook.

We came out amid a suburb of large modern houses. Despite it being school holidays there was no sight or sound of children. Rain had been forecast, but the weather was mild and still. This is a leafy suburb, and the trees had beautiful autumn colours.

Autumn splendour

The gardens were extremely neat and tidy, with little character to the enormous houses. Many of them had topiaries, and I wonder whether the residents employ gardeners to keep everything neatly clipped.

Too much topiary?

We returned through Aylsham Reserve which had a children’s playground and seats where we stopped for morning tea. Neither of us knew how this tall piece of play equipment would be utilised. Do you know?

Unidentified play equipment

A friendly cat came to check us out, one of the very few locals we saw.

Friendly Aylsham cat

This reserve had another stream with footbridges.

Ruth on bridge at Aylsham Reserve

We enjoyed exploring a different part of the city, but it all seemed strangely empty.

No-one around this autumn day
perhaps they all have gone away

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Exploring part of the new Urban Play Trail was my goal for this morning’s walk, but first I went to Turanga to return a couple of library books. I passed a homeless man sleeping in a New Regent Street doorway, and there were several others camping outside Turanga waiting for it to open at 10am.

The red phone box by Victoria Square is invitingly doorless. Years ago Telecom tried to paint all our phone boxes blue, but Alf’s Imperial Army repainted them red, and this one is a relic of that time. It’s suggested that people fit as many as possible into the box, then take a photo. No-one was attempting that this morning.

Red phone box

Across the road and along Cambridge Terrace a game of noughts and crosses is invitingly set up beside the river. This kind of board game can be traced back to ancient Egypt. The name of the river Otakaro (can’t get macrons here) means place of a game.

Riverside board game

On the riverbank I spied these toadstools among the chestnuts. I don’t know their name, and there are over 5,000 different native fungi in Aotearoa.


The Otakaro Orchard Food Forest has developed tremendously in recent months.

Otakaro Orchard

Some of the trees have individual names.

Cheryl, the peach tree

Near the Band Rotunda there is a Poet Tree where you are invited to add your creation, with boards and chalk provided. Another time I might be tempted.

Poet Tree

These are just a few of the current opportunities for fun in the central city, especially welcome at school holiday time. Thanks to Gap Filler for this project.

There’s lost of ways that you can play
why not check out the trail today?

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With high temperatures forecast Christine and I chose the Botanic Gardens for our monthly walk, thinking there would be plenty of shady spots. Many other people had the same idea and the car park was filling fast when I arrived at 9.30am. I carefully backed into a vacant spot at the end of a row.

There was no wind and the gardens looked immaculate as usual. It was obvious there was a cruise ship in town, we stopped to chat with a couple of tourists, and the Gardens tour shuttles were full.

I matched the flower bed
Tourists kindly took a snap of Christine and me

We popped into the Museum to inquire about the Shift exhibition there and discovered there are discount prices for Seniors and Community Service Card holders. The helpful woman told us booking is not essential and it’s best to avoid entering at the booking hour when it can be busy. Other times are less crowded and you can stay as long as you like.

When I returned to the car park I was surprised to find another vehicle parked close to mine, on the footpath. This was blocking my driver’s door so I got in the passenger’s side and climbed across. By now the car park was full with many cars seeking a spot, and as I prepared to leave a man guided his partner into the lane so she could take my place. The access road was jammed and visibility blocked, so I asked this man if he would guide me out, feeling very glad I’d parked backwards. He kindly stood in the middle of the road and held up both lanes of traffic to facilitate my exit.

Today the park was popular
no space left for another car

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Emerging Amazon

Remember something that happened for the first time. This was the prompt for our creative writing class, and I remembered the first (and only) time I went abseiling. It was November 1992 and I enrolled in an Emerging Amazon course for women run by Ali Watersong. We all met on the Friday evening when Ali led a psychodrama session where we looked at what we were afraid of and talked to the cliff face.

On the Saturday morning we drove to Castle Rock in the Port Hills, were fitted with harnesses and hard hats, and taught techniques and safety procedures. Then we climbed up the rock – I remember feeling scared but determined. I also felt a connection with my father who died when I was very young, and who was a keen climber.

The weather was fine, the sky clear, and the view from the top breathtaking. I could watch other women bravely stepping off and launching themselves down, but it took time for me to gather my courage and follow them.

Ruth abseiling

With Ali’s support I was able to do it, and gained immense satisfaction. Someone even took a photo which I have treasured. There was a feeling of sisterhood within the group. The experience definitely took me outside my comfort zone and gave me a sense of achievement, but I was not tempted to repeat it. I wonder how many of my blog readers have abseiled?

I needed courage to abseil
today I would require guard rail

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Charlesworth Wetland Reserve was where Christine and I chose to walk this morning. At the entrance in Charlesworth Street, Ferrymead, there are pamphlets available including one which details a self-guided quiz trail. This is supposed to take thirty minutes, but we dawdled and took longer. There are twenty points of interest on the trail, but some of the numbered markers have either disappeared or are not obvious. At one point there was a signpost with a map although it was not very helpful.

Map on signpost was not clear

The Reserve is home to a number of birds, but the only ones we saw were Mallard ducks and Scaupe.

Ducks on pond

The Reserve is owned and managed by the Christchurch City Council and most of the planting is done by volunteers who work there every Sunday. Many of the trees are still small, but these ones dominate the skyline.

Large trees

Unfortunately convolvulus can be seen in some areas. This weed is a nuisance everywhere. The seeds can survive over thirty years in the soil, which makes it difficult to eradicate.


This was a lovely walk, with the shade especially welcome on a sunny day. There are a couple of spots with seats where you can sit and look out over the wetlands. It’s great to have this reserve so close to the city.

We walked along the Charlesworth trail
all flat, no uphill or down dale

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Yesterday’s weather was perfect for the beach. Many families were out, splashing in the shallows, building sand castles, or walking their dogs.

Sunday on Waimairi Beach

A large bird had been washed up on the beach and we wondered what it was.

Bird corpse

My digitally deft companion sent a photo to iNaturalist where it was identified as a Giant Petrel. It had obviously been in the sea for some time as it was entwined with kelp. The traditional seafarers’ name for this bird is stinkpot because they have an intense foul smell like rotting flesh. Luckily any smell had been washed away before this corpse came to shore.

Giant Petrels are scavengers who eat penguin, albatross, seal and whale carrion, and kelp, as well as fish and squid. Adult birds can walk strongly on land where they aggressively compete for carrion and prey, being the only petrels that will feed while on land.

Alive this is a bird to fear
and you might not want to be near

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Developing rain was forecast, but Christine and I set out towards Linwood, planning to walk beside the canal and Humphreys Drive. Now the cycle path is well established there’s no parking in that part of Linwood Avenue, so we turned down Ti Rakau Drive and parked there. Opposite the canal we saw just a few pukeko.

Lone Pukeko

Next we headed for Windsurf Reserve where there was one swan, a good view of the estuary, and seats provided for a morning tea stop. Coming back we explored the Charlesworth Wetland Reserve.

Charlesworth Reserve

By now the rain had set in and I was glad I’d brought my umbrella.

“Just walking in the rain . . .”

The weather was still warm and the knees of my trousers dried out once we were back in the car. We were a little disappointed to have seen so few birds, and may explore further in this direction another time.

There’s lots to see out Linwood way
we’ll go again another day

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The Jubilee Walk, constructed for the 125th Jubilee of New Brighton in 1985, was where Christine and I walked this week. We started beside the river near Bower Avenue at the spot where New Brighton was named in 1860. A plaque was erected there by the North New Brighton community in 1985.

We saw several bird families on the river:

Swans with cygnets
Canada Geese with goslings

Our morning tea spot was the reserve which commemorates Jack Hinton. He was awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII for the courage he showed in a battle with German troops in April 1941 at Kalamata in southern Greece. After being hospitalised with injuries from the battle, he was taken to a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. He escaped twice, but was recaptured both times and was imprisoned until the end of the war. In his later years, Jack and his wife retired to Bexley and regularly walked the banks of the Avon/Ōtākaro River, next to the reserve.

Jack Hinton Reserve

The stone above the plaque was donated by the Mayor of Kalamata in recognition of the heroic contribution of Jack Hinton and his fellow soldiers, and olive trees have been planted around the reserve.

Further on we came across this stump which looked like an animal.

Animal-like stump

The weather was mild, and this was a most enjoyable jaunt.

To walk beside the river is
a pleasure that is simply wiz

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Flotsam on the beach this morning was thicker than we’ve seen before.

Flotsam with ships on the horizon

Two horse riders were taking advantage of the firm sand, and keeping clear of loose dogs.

Horses on beach

The wind was strong and cold, and we admired a kite flying overhead, then realised the man controlling it had a kind of bicycle which was being pulled along by wind power.

Kite rider

So many different sights to see
they gave our walk fresh novelty

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