Date: 27/10/2019 River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ River Conditions: 1.907 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1. Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, nor-westerly breezes, gusting strongly at times. Number on Trip: 2 people. Time on River: 1.25 hours. Comments: No sign of Greta on Sunday morning, so we got in to our kayaking gear and took the boats down to the river. After loading Lauri’s kayak trolley into the back of her kayak, she climbed in and seal launched off the low bank, into the river. I followed and together we paddled upstream to the Stanmore Road bridge with no sign of Greta in her usual spot. A quick slalom under the bridge before heading back down the river. Strong head winds slowed the return trip and there was still no sign of Greta around the Swanns Road bridge so we continued on downstream. Shortly after passing the boat ramp, the cries of a Paradise Shelduck filled the air, as Greta flew past pursued by another female Shelduck. The second female broke of the chase and returned the way she had come, while Greta headed back to her riverside retreat.
We paddled back upstream to say hello to Greta and spend some time with her. Lauri hand fed Greta from her kayak, which was very cute to see. A large, unusual duck, which we name “The Boss”, was hanging around and he was keen to throw his weight around to get at the duck feed Lauri had scattered on the island for Greta. We spent around 40 minutes paddling around the Swanns Road bridge area, as Greta went about her duck business, before lunch beckoned and we got out at the boat ramp. Lauri decided to spend some more time with Greta, while I took the kayaks home and packed up the gear.
Date: 19/10/2019 River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ River Conditions: 1.998 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1. Weather Conditions: Sunny and warm, nor-easterly breezes. Number on Trip: 2 people. Time on River: 0.75 hours. Comments: Just as we were getting ready to head down to the river with the kayaks to see Greta the Paradise Shelduck, she flew in to visit us. We fed her some duck feed and then coaxed her to follow us. She waddled across the road following Lauri as she towed her kayak behind her, but stopped in the Red Zone to have a bit of a nibble on some grass. We carried on walking down to the river and launched into the river from the bank. Lauri headed off upstream while I got sorted out and on the water.
I seal launched into the river and powered off after Lauri. There was no sign of Greta at the Swanns Road bridge, where she often hangs out, so we continued on upstream, enjoying the sunshine and beautiful surroundings.
Not wishing to over tax Lauri, we just went as far as the Stanmore Road bridge and did a quick slalom run through the bridge piles before paddling back down the river. Spotted a large brown rat running along the bank near the Old Avonside Girls High, but didn’t manage to get a photo. We also spotted a pair of Paradise Shelducks, that we had previously named Flame, due to the white “flames” around the male’s eyes, and Moll, his aggressive girlfriend.
Back at the Swanns Road bridge, there was no sign of Greta so we continued down stream to the Riverbend Refuge, where the Green Lab group have installed a series of giant eel sculptures, a picnic area and native plantings. Spotted a pair of female Shelducks hanging out together, but no sign of Greta. So we paddled back to the Swanns Road boat ramp and got out there. One of our neighbours was there with here son, making tiny boats out of sticks, so we chatted to her after we got the boats out and loaded up. Suddenly in a flurry of wings and honking, Greta flew in to join us, and we sat on the dock together, enjoying the view and sunshine.
It ended abruptly when another pair of Paradise Shelducks appeared and the female launched a flying attack on Greta and drove her off, up the road. The drama continued as Greta decided a puddle on the side of the road was a great place to hang out, which was fine until a jogger with a dog ran through, panicking her and causing her to fly into the road with oncoming traffic. I managed to the drive her off the road and down to her spot on the river, whilst balancing my kayak on my shoulder. We sat with her for a bit and then wandered home for lunch.
Date: 13/10/2019 River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ River Conditions: 1.885 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1. Weather Conditions: Sunny but cool. Number on Trip: 2 people & 1 duck. Time on River: 2 hours. Comments: We decided to take the kayaks down to the river to have a paddle around with Greta the Paradise Shelduck that has recently befriended us. We put on the river at the bottom of Eveleyn Couzins Ave and paddled up to around the Swanns Road bridge, which is Greta’s favourite hangout spot.
Greta seemed pleased to see us on the river and was happy to paddle around with us. It was nice to see her in her natural environment, going about her duck business, feeding and paddling about.
One of the interesting things she did a couple of times, was to fly up to a hole under the bridge that the pigeons had been roosting in, but being somewhat larger, she didn’t have much success and we weren’t exactly sure what she was trying to do.
Apparently good territory is hard to find and a pair of Shelducks were keen to muscle in on Greta’s spot. We named the male Flame, due to the white “flames” around his eyes, and his girlfriend, Moll. Moll was very aggressive towards Greta, repeatedly flying at her in an attempt to drive her off, while Flame was a little more standoffish. We tried to position our kayaks to protect Greta, and defend her territory, Lauri putting her canoe polo skills to good effect. When pressed, Flame and Moll would retreat to a spot near the black swan’s nest, a little way upstream from the bridge, not wishing to disturb the swans, we generally retreated. After a particularly aggressive flanking attack on Greta by Moll, we ended up chasing them a way upstream and they didn’t return.
We spent some what longer on the river than intended, but eventually we said goodbye to Greta and got out at the boat ramp and wandered home for lunch.
Date: 6/10/2019 River: Avon River, Christchurch, NZ River Conditions: 1.89 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1. Weather Conditions: Sunny but cool. Number on Trip: 2 people. Time on River: 0.75 hours. Comments: Not quite what I was expecting for my first trip of the season, but it was a nice day and Lauri was keen to get out on the river, so we set about digging out the kayaks and sorting out gear. It always seems like a bit of a mission to haul the kayaks out of the garage, but eventually we were all clad in our kayaking gear and the kayaks were arranged on the over the drive way. Peri, our cat checked out the kayaks, while Greta, the Paradise Shelduck who had recently befriended us, honked the occasional warning while watching proceedings. Lauri’s kayak trolley was assembled and had the tyres pumped up, before strapping her kayak on top and we were ready to go. Peri decided to head inside and Greta showed no interest in following us down to the river, choosing to stay on our driveway when we crossed the road to head into the Red Zone.
The tide was in and there was a nice launching spot at the end of Eveleyn Couzins Ave, where bank protection works provided a nice stepped platform. We got Lauri’s boat into the water and helped here in, feeling a little stiff and creaky, not having sat in a boat for a while. We got her deck on and she paddled off upstream, while I got in to my Salto. The boat felt very roomy, but it was good to be on the water, with a paddle in my hands again, so I sped off after Lauri, with the bow of the Salto cutting cleanly through the water.
The in-flowing tide made paddling upstream easy and I soon caught up with Lauri. She was enjoying being back in her Prijon Fly but was finding the back rest a little uncomfortable, but after some on river adjustments, she was all happy. It was a beautiful, sunny day, the water was clear and it was a real pleasure to on the river. On the northern bank, the Red Zone provided a refreshing rural outlook, only intruded on by the traffic noise from Avonside Drive running beside the river on the opposite bank. We spotted a black swan, a pair of Paradise Shelducks (but no sign of Greta), the odd shag and other ducks, and even a largish trout near the Stanmore Road bridge.
To avoid overdoing it, we turned back at the Fitzgerald Street bridge instead of popping in to Pomeroy’s for a drink and some pork scratchings. On the way back, Lauri spotted something moving across the water, I gave chase and was soon on the tail on a large swimming rat. It dived to try and throw off pursuit before reaching the bank and scrambling into cover.
We got back to the jetty below the Swanns Road bridge where we planned to get out, as Lauri finds it difficult and painful to climb out of her boat due to health issues. Unfortunately the way was blocked by a fisherman and his white baiting set up. We spoke to him but he wasn’t prepared to let us out there, despite it being a public boat launching ramp, not his personal fishing wharf. Eventually we decided it was less hassle to get out where we got in, rather than persist arguing with a rather rude individual. With a bit of difficulty, we managed to get Lauri out of her boat without falling in, got the boats out and loaded up, before walking home for a well earned cup of tea, feeling surprisingly tired considering the less than extreme nature of this adventure.