River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions: 1.94 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, light nor-westerly wind.
Number on Trip: 1 person.
Time on River: 1.75 hours.
Comments: It was a beautiful, warm day in Christchurch and it almost felt wrong to not be doing something. Lauri kindly offered to drop me off at Hagley Park so I could paddle home without having to worry about shuttling a vehicle as well. We parked on Kilmore Street and I carried my kayak across Rolleston Avenue and seal launched into the Avon just as a group of stand up paddle boarders went by.
The water was cool and clear, and it was real pleasure to be on the river on such a lovely day. I chatted briefly to the paddle boarders as we made our way towards the Armagh Street bridge.
Once under the footbridge, the numbers of other river users increased, as people used hired boats from the Antigua Boat-sheds to explore the stretch of the river that provides a watery boundary to the Botanical Gardens. For those wanting a slightly more subdued or luxurious way to enjoy the parks greenery from the water, there were a number of punts operating as well.
This section is easily navigated and the water is generally less than a metre deep. The banks are easily accessible on both sides of river, so anyone wanted to stop for a picnic can do so. Trout and eels can be spotted and there are plenty of water fowl to be seen. It takes around half an hour of steady paddling to get from the Armagh Street bridge to the Antigua Street boat-sheds.
Once past the boat sheds and down the small riffle that was once the site of a small weir, the numbers on the water thinned out as the hired boats aren’t allowed to be taken past this point. The river winds its’ way through the city centre and there has been a major improvements to the riverside landscape since the earthquakes, there is a series of swift riffles to navigate, rocks & native plantings, terraces and even homes for the eels pictured above. Theoretically you could stop for a drink & a snack at a bar or cafe but you would probably want to make sure your boat and gear was well secured (locked to something solid).
As I moved through further through the city, I spotted a figure up ahead and at first thought it was another stand-up paddle boarder until I got closer and realised it was the the Anthony Gormley statue contemplating its’ own reflection in the water. The river through the city is quite scenic and the water was remarkably free of Lime Scooters. I paddled past other art works on the banks and reached the Margaret Mahy playground about half an hour after leaving the Antigua Street boat sheds.
The Margret Mahy playground was busy with families enjoying the sunshine but the river was largely empty. Down through the rows of tall poplar trees, past the Firefighters Memorial made from the twisted steel girders from the World Trade Centre and then down to our old put in at the end of Peterborough Street.
From here the river has some deeper spots and winds through Red Zone areas cleared of housing, giving this section a rural feel. I paddled past Pomeroy’s but didn’t stop for a beer, carrying on through the Red Zone towards home.
It took less than 2 hours from my put in off Rolleston Avenue to reach the Richmond Community Garden, where I scrambled up the bank and walked the short distance home with my kayak on my shoulder. The trip took me through well groomed gardens, inner city environs and the semi rural Red Zone, well worth repeating on another sunny day.