3rd May 2020: Avon River

Date:    3/05/2020
River:    
Avon River, Christchurch, NZ
River Conditions:   
1.565 cumecs at Gloucester Street bridge. Water mostly clear. Grade 1.
Weather Conditions:   
Warm and sunny.
Number on Trip:    
1 person.
Time on River:  
1 hour.
Comments:  Last week we moved from Covid-19 Level 4 to Level 3 and this meant that local kayaking was back on the table. While the Ashley was deemed to far away and the Hurunui was running at over 100 cumecs, I could still walk across the road with my kayak on my shoulder and put in on the Avon for a nice paddle down through the Red Zone. I got changed in to my paddling gear and headed out the front door with my kayak. I was surprised how warm it was, a nor-wester had been blowing but the winds dropped in the mid-afternoon, so I probably didn’t need two layers of thermals, as well as my paddle jacket.

I crossed the community garden area and got down to my usual put in spot, the tide must have been in as the river level was quite high. Across the river, a family group with an inflatable kayak and several sit on tops were taking out at the boat ramp. Once I finally pried my spray deck on, I slid off the bank and into the river and paddled strongly downstream. I was a beautiful day and it was a real pleasure to be out and on the river again. Heading down the river, I passed a couple in sea kayaks heading upstream. There were also plenty of walkers and cyclists out enjoying the sunshine, making use of the tracks along side the Avon as it winds through the Red Zone.

When I reached the Dudley Creek confluence, I was still feeling happy and enjoying being on the river, so I decided to carry on to the Gayhurst Road bridge. This is my usual ride to “work” on my mountain bike, while I have been working from home during the Covid-19 lock down, and has been my main source of exercise during this period. There and back is just over 5km and provides an enjoyable outing with great scenery and little or no traffic other than walkers, dogs & cyclists.

Heading downstream through the Red Zone.

As I neared the Gayhurst Road bridge, there was a lot of splashing as two boys were enjoying the beautiful day, playing about on their stand up paddleboard, jumping into the water and have a great time. They were keen for me to demonstrate a 360 or a roll, but there was definitely no way I was going to put my head under the less than pristine waters of the Avon, despite the offered cash incentives. I told them they were pretty keen to be swimming in the Avon, but they seemed quite happy and it was good to see young people getting out and enjoying the river. After paddling under the bridge, I turned and headed for home.

Dramatic skies reflected on the mirrored surface near the Dudley Creek confluence.

I love having the Avon River and the Red Zone virtually on our door step, and it is great to have such easy access to the river. Before the quakes and the Red Zoning of the area across the road, getting down to the river involved a much more circuitous route and the northern banks were much steeper, making launching a kayak more difficult. As I was nearing the home stretch, I passed the couple in the sea kayaks heading back downstream. Apparently they also live close to the river and are able to take full advantage of the proximity.

The Blitz on the glassy waters of the Avon, the Port Hills in the distance.

I was back at the get in just after 4pm, but decided I should probably continue up to the Swanns Road bridge to see if Greta the Paradise Shelduck was about.

Autumn colors were very visible in the Red Zone we get closer to winter.

There was no sign of Greta, but I did hear her distinctive call from the green space across the road, as she loudly announced the passing of a large dog. The autumn colours were looking stunning, and I enjoyed their reflections in the water. The sun was still warm but it was getting later than I planned, so I turned and paddled back to my get in spot. I reversed up on to the bank and lifted myself out of my kayak before raising it to my shoulder and walking home for a well deserved shower and some afternoon tea.