Monthly Archives: August 2020

30th August 2020: Avon River

Date:    30/08/2020
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.656 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. River very low, water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Sunny and warm, nor-west winds.
Number on Trip:    
2 person.
Time on River:  
1 hour (3.3km).
Comments:  Sunday was such a lovely day, especially for one of the last days of winter, a warm nor-westerly was blowing, everywhere was starting to become green again, daffodils were flowering and blossoms had started to appear. After a delicious lunch of soondubu jjigae cooked by Lauri, we decided a paddle on the Avon would be a great way to spend a glorious winter afternoon. We dug out our kayaking gear and I set about getting the boats out. It was a little easier to do this time as I didn’t have to ease them out through the front door, with no scooter parked in front of the garage door (it got stolen during the level 4 lockdown and its’ replacement lives around the side of the house now), I could take them straight out. After we got Lauri’s fly on her little trolley, we trundled off to the river. The chickens, in their new enclosure in the community garden area, followed us excitedly as we went past, hoping for some food I guess.

Apparently seal launching into a shallow river from a steep bank isn’t necessarily advisable.

Once we reached the river, it looked low, in fact I can’t remember seeing it quite so low before. The tide was out and the water level was 3 or 4 inches below the deck on the jetty across the river. Our usual launch spot had quite a drop down to the river, with not much water above the mud. Our other spot had quite a drop too, but the rock filled gabion baskets form a bit of a jetty so we put the Fly in and I held it while Lauri eased herself in and fitted her deck. She paddled off while I climbed into my Blitz and secured the deck in preparation for a seal launch off the bank. A black swan came over and expressed some interest in proceedings (or at least an expectation of some food) and I waited until they moved off before launching. I slid off the bank, leaning back to keep the nose up and the boats’ angle as oblique as possible but the nose still dug into the muddy bottom of the river, scooping up a large lump that covered the bow. Lauri was amused by this and I gave her the camera so she could record my attempts to wash it off.

Native vegetation lines the banks of the Avon in places, harking back to what it might have once looked like.

Once I’d cleaned the mud off my deck, we headed off downstream with a tail wind to assist our travels, Lauri suggested that she needed a flat paddle to use as a sail. It was wonderful to be on the river with Lauri gliding along in her Fly, truly a great was to spend an afternoon. We considered ourselves very lucky to live so close to this stretch of the Avon, as having paddled the almost all of the navigable sections of the river, the section between the Swanns Road bridge down Dudley Creek is probably one of the best. The river is fairly wide and deep for this section, and it has red zoned land on either side for most of it, so there is little traffic noise, or cars and houses visible. The banks have a lot of native plantings and the surrounding Red Zone lands are pleasant with plenty of trees and there are even some good views of the Port Hills.

The Eels at Riverbend Refuge

There were a few race boaters training on the river and the occasional whitebaiter on the banks. We paddled down to Dudley Creek and then turned back upstream, as to go further would have meant going all the way to the Gayhurst Street bridges, the next “section” marker, and that would have been a bit more exercise than would have been fun. As it was the nor-westerly winds that had driven us downstream, was now blowing in our faces and made progress a little more difficult. We paused at the “Eels” to check out the reverse side and then carried on back to the jetty.

A new nest for the black swans.

Lauri still had some energy so we paddled past the jetty and said “hello” to the swan who had built a new nest just upstream. Passing Greta the Paradise Shelduck’s island was a little sad since her death due to a car strike earlier in the year. We buried her near the bridge, overlooking one of her favourite roosting spots, and hope her spirit has found happiness, while her memory still lives on in our hearts.

As we passed under the Swanns Road bridge, we noted the central pylons’ foundations exposed by the low water, seemed a little worse for the wear, seeming offset with cracks and quake damage exposing some of the steel reinforcing rods. I guess it will be repaired in the future, but is still serviceable now and doesn’t get too much traffic. We paddled back to the jetty and I helped Lauri out of her kayak, her legs a little wobbly after being crammed into the Fly. We loaded her kayak on the trolley and we wandered home feeling just a little tired. I packed away the gear before getting to relax with a nice cup of tea and a piece of fruit toast.

23rd August 2020: Avon River & Dudley Creek

Date:    23/08/2020
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.682 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Cool & overcast, brief sunny spells.
Number on Trip:    
1 person.
Time on River:  
1.5 hours (6.8km).
Comments:  With the rain having cleared and the sun trying to poke through the clouds, a paddle down the Avon looked on the cards. I had thought of going out last weekend, but Lauri insisted on me giving her hair a trim before I went. Technically as I have a certificate in taking hair samples and have cut the hair of a number of famous and not so famous people, I am “qualified” to cut hair, however I don’t really think it is advisable to get a geologist to cut your hair. Needless to say the results were less than satisfactory and no kayaking happened that weekend. So after making sure Lauri was comfortable settled outside with a cup of tea and Peri the cat on her lap, I got changed and carried the Blitz down to the river.

Blue sky and a glassy surface.

I slid off the bank and into the river, I decided to head down stream into the Red Zone as it is more peaceful because there are no busy roads bordering the river. There was a chill nor-easterly wind that was kicking up a small chop on the otherwise glassy surface. As I hadn’t paddled for a while, it felt quite tiring, with little used muscles slowly remembering their previous functions. I wasn’t sure exactly how far I was going to go, but as I got in to a rhythm, it felt good to be powering downstream, enjoying the exercise and watching the scenery slide past.

This pukeko is the one of the residents of this Red Zoned section of Avonside Drive.

I was still feeling pretty good when I reached the Dudley Creek confluence so I decided to carry on down to the Gayhurst Street bridge. There were a few race boaters enjoying a Sunday afternoon paddle and plenty of others making the most of a break in the weather, jogging, walking or cycling along the tracks through the Red Zone that run beside the river. This area is a real treasure and it is great to see it being utilised.

I passed a number of whitebaiters fishing from the bank on the way down stream. Eventually I reached the bridge and then looped round the bridge support to begin the return journey. Paddling upstream was a bit more difficult and my lack of paddle fitness was possibly showing, but I carried on with just an occasional breather to admire the scenery.

Urban creeking, exploring Dudley Creek.

As I was approaching the confluence with Dudley Creek, “adventure” beckoned and I decided to have an explore and see how far up I could manage to get. Last time we paddled up the creek, we found our way blocked by a low bridge. This time, the water level was much lower and by leaning forward, I was able to paddle under it.

Dudley Creek runs along side Banks Avenue and prior to the earthquakes was quite a nice area, with some fairly flash houses. After the quakes, some of the houses were Red Zoned, others were left broken while others were rebuilt or repaired. Most of the houses were accessed via private bridges over the creek, fortunately most are high enough for a kayak to pass easily under. The creek itself is pretty narrow and shallow, with a muddy bottom. There were more old tyres and pieces of broken masonry than is really acceptable, but is reasonably clear and pleasant, with plenty of greenery. At times it didn’t feel like you were in the middle of a city.

As far as I got up Dudley Creek, almost to where Achillies Street joins Banks Avenue.

Eventually after passing under a number of bridges, the creek got too shallow and swift to continue on. I’d reached a point almost at Achillies Street, about 600m up the creek. Fortunately at this point the creek was wide enough for the 2.2m long Blitz to turn around and I headed back downstream.

As I paddled downstream I spotted a splendid metallic blue kingfisher above one bridge, but it flew away before I could photograph it. As I paddled under one small bridge, a car passed overhead with a juddering rumble. Back on the Avon I headed for home, realising I’d been out for over an hour. I carried on, my limbs feeling a tired, passing the jetty near the site of the old WWCC boat shed, I decided the trip wouldn’t be complete unless I paddled up to the Swanns Road bridge. This completed the “circuit” and I paddled back down to my get in point and climbed out, shouldering my kayak and headed for home, feeling a little sore and tired but satisfied.