The Christchurch 360 Trail is approximately 135 km long and encircles the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. It showcases the wonderful diversity of the city, featuring not just the flora and fauna but also historical, architectural and cultural aspects of Christchurch.
The Christchurch 360 Trail is affectionately known as The Meurky Walk in honour of its inventor. It links up many existing trails and urban routes.
We would like the Christchurch 360 Trail to provide an experience on par with New Zealand’s Great Walks, cycleways such as the Otago Rail Trail and countryside walks such as Europe’s Pennine Way and North America’s Appalachian Trail. It almost completely encircles Christchurch, much like the very successful Capital Ring in London.
Unfortunately, the trail does not form a complete circuit at this time. We cannot mark a route alongside roads with a posted speed in access of 50km/h unless there is a formed pathway. At a cost of $45/m, we require approximately $NZ500,000 in order to complete the circuit, joining up the current gap between McLeans Island to Avonhead Park. If you would like to support the fundraising efforts of the Christchurch 360 Trail, please visit our donations page.
The trail highlights much of what makes Christchurch a special place. The diverse ecology, from marshes and wetlands to dry savannah ecosystems, from verdant bush remnants to the exposed open hilltops of the Crater Rim. There are items of historical and cultural interest, layers of Maori history and two centuries of colonial to post-modern architecture.
The trail is not simply about conservation and preservation, but it also demonstrates how we as a community are integrating into our environment and creating our own habitat. It is about connecting people to their surroundings, and recognising an asset that can attract tourists to the city.
The Christchurch 360 trail includes as part of its length the Christchurch Coastal Pathway, which is itself expected to attract the attention of visitors to the city. The Christchurch 360 provides a multi-day route that will appeal to those visitors who want to see more of what the city has to offer.
The trail is the outcome of a 25-year vision of world-renowned ecologist Colin Meurk. He has guided Forest & Bird members on walks for many years over variations of the route, and has advocated for many years the concept of the trail as an attraction for the city.
Many tourists land in Christchurch and immediately depart for Queenstown or Milford. Yet Christchurch really is an unrecognised green eco-destination in and of itself.
The Christchurch 360 Trail takes advantage of what is already here: restored wetlands, preserved coastal dunes, suburban streams, river stopbanks topped with walkways, the Bottle Lake Forest Park, Crater Rim walks high above the city and historic European and Maori village replicas. It even includes the sewage treatment ponds, as the Te Huingi Wildlife Refuge there is home to many birds.
You can see a braided river bed, home to rare birds, with snow-capped mountains in the distance. You can see godwits picking across mudflats. Craggy cliffs support hot rock ferns and natural hedges. From the tops of the Port Hills you can see sweeping pastel-blue harbour views. Time it right, and you can see scarlet skies over saltmarsh reed-beds. Clear spring-fed streams slip through the suburbs. Stands of native trees such as kahikatea tower skywards from within inner city forests. Discover native orchids hiding in pine woods. See immaculately tended gardens in a riot of colour. Hear the waves of the Pacific Ocean pounding into the fine sandy beaches. There are nearly 100 types of native birds and at least 400 wild native vascular plants in the greater Christchurch area.
The trail was intended to be attractive to both walkers and cyclists. Some sections of the trail in parks are shared pedestrian and cycling trails. However we cannot promote this trail as a cycling trail. This is not just about liability, but also safety. There is a difference between what cyclists may do legally and what is recommended as a ‘cycling route’. There is an implied suitability and safe cycling route message that goes with a promoted cycling route that does not exist with a non-cycling route stretch of road. Users’ perception and potentially, therefore, their level of safety awareness is influenced by a promoted route. The precautionary approach advocated by the Christchurch City Council sends a message to Christchurch 360 Trail users that this is not a recommended cycle safe route but that use of the route is up to the individual.
As Christchurch is reborn from the shock of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, this is a project that literally links up communities around the city, joining them together. We hope each community will take an interest in supporting their local leg of the trail.
Now we have the Christchurch 360 Trail created and opened, we have not completed the vision for the trail. Besides promoting the trail and encouraging thousands of people, locals and visitors alike to use it, we have plans for the future of the Christchurch 360 Trail that will see it further improved and enhanced.
We especially would like to recognise the assistance of Rotary clubs in Christchurch, who have provided people to help mark the trail and are providing other support as we get the project under way. The Rotary Neighbourhood Project has funded this website and the graphic design that went into our logo.
Many walking groups, athletic clubs and businesses such as cafes, restaurants, hostels, camping grounds, B&Bs and other accommodation providers, shuttle operators and other similar services will benefit from the development of the trail.