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The Future of the Christchurch 360
What will the future hold for the Christchurch 360 Trail? We hope it will be a bright future, with many tourists visiting the city and enjoying the trail, and locals getting out and about and enjoying what we have in our local environment.
But there are things that we need to make progress on in order to make the reality of the Christchurch 360 Trail align better with the original vision.
Completing the circuit
Currently the Christchurch 360 isn’t really even the Christchurch 360 – it is more like the Christchurch 347. The route is only about 89% complete. Over 12 degrees of the compass around Christchurch are not covered by a trail. There is a discontinuity in our circuit between McLeans Island and Avonhead Park. About 15km of trail cannot yet be marked in this area. A large part of this area will require walking alongside roads that have speed limits in excess of 50km/h, and we cannot mark a trail for people to walk along here without formed footpath infrastructure. We have been quoted $45/m as the cost of installing a lime-chip path along this 10+km section of road.
We may have the option to cross some land owned by Christchurch International Airport Limited, and this is a positive option we would like to pursue.
Additionally, we need to decide on the appropriate route between the current sign marking the Waimakariri Braids leg at McLeans Island, and Conservators Rd. Our ideal route will head south across McLeans Island Rd and around the new quarry, using new Unformed Legal Roads gazetted for public use. At the time of writing, it is not clear what the legal status of these new ULRs is, the existing ULRs are supposed to have been de-gazetted and replaced in conjunction with the new single quarry, but public access documentation online continues to show the old ULRs and not the new ULRs.
There is an important safety issue that needs to be resolved, also. The trail needs to cross State Highway 1, somewhere near Ryans Rd. At this point, SH1 is four lanes wide, with a marked speed limit of 80km/h, and there is no consideration for pedestrian safety, not even a pedestrian refuge on the island in the middle between the lanes. NZTA is not willing to consider the addition of pedestrian safety features here. They proposed pedestrians to walk alongside the road margin south along SH1 until they reached the 60km/h area, then cross using the median barrier gardens as a pedestrian refuge proxy. The CCC traffic officials were not happy with this proposal. As a result, even once we establish a footpath up to SH1, we have no way to cross it that meets the expectations of NZTA and CCC.
So, order to complete the circuit, we need:
- to settle on a route between McLeans Island and Avonhead Park that provides suitable legal access and ecological interest,
- to negotiate a more financially reasonable standard to qualify as footpath infrastructure alongside these sections of road,
- to raise sufficient funds for the installation of this footpath infrastructure,
- to agree an acceptable crossing point and method with possibly new pedestrian considerations on SH1 near Ryans Rd.
In several places, the Christchurch 360 Trail does not go where we wanted it to go, because we could not get access agreements. As a result, we have had to settle for secondary (and often second-rate or worse) alternatives, in order to make the route as complete as possible. The following route improvements need to be pursued:
Route along the Eastern edge of Te Huingi Manu Wildlife Refuge
We originally wanted to follow a path along the Eastern edge of the Te Huingi Manu Wildlife Refuge and settlement ponds. However, CCC Parks will not permit us to use this route, not until there is a hurricane fence the full length of this stretch. The understandable objective is to keep dogs out of the wildlife refuge, though they would not be permitted along this piece of track anyway. However, this fencing will come at a considerable cost, and though there has been a desire within CCC for a number of years to provide this trail with fencing protection, the “Estuary Edge” project appears to be making no progress. With the CCC being cash-strapped for many years into the foreseeable future, we cannot presume that this project will be realised any time soon.
As an alternative, we tried to get agreement to use the existing vehicle track that runs between Dyers Rd and the ponds to the East of Dyers Rd. The wastewater ponds management refused to make any concessions for the benefit of the Christchurch 360 Trail, and this option had to be abandoned.
Because Dyers Rd has a posted speed in excess of 50km/h and no existing footpath infrastructure, we cannot use the side of that road for the route.
As a result, we have had to detour the route up through Linwood, adding many unnecessary kilometres to the route and taking the trail far from the ecologically interesting wildlife refuge.
We need to pursue all options available to us to achieve the existing “Estuary Edge” project intentions to put a fenced trail between Te Huingi Manu Wildlife Refuge and the Estuary.
Inclusion of The Groynes
At the moment, there is a viable route from Whites Crossing to The Groynes, but once within The Groynes, there is no route back towards the Waimakariri River, without backtracking. Work is underway for a track at the Western end of The Groynes that would allow us to make our way back up towards The Sanctuary, but this route is incomplete at this time. It may be at least a year before we can pursue this interesting diversion away from the stopbanks of the Waimakariri River.
Preferred Routes along the Crater Rim Walkway
Since the Canterbury Earthquakes, a number of routes along the Crater Rim Walkway have been modified. CCC Parks has required us to mark the route through several significantly less appealing areas, where better alternative routes existed but were deemed unsafe because of rockfall risk.
The following need to be reconsidered for inclusion as part of the Christchurch 360 Trail, perhaps with ‘rockfall hazard – no stopping’ signs as used on other tracks:
- The dog-leg trail around the spur South-West of the Sign Of The Kiwi.
- The route through the native bush of Tauhinu-Korokio Reserve below Mt Pleasant is much more appealing than the open grasslands of the route over Mt Pleasant, and provides a significantly different ecological environment.
Further divisions of legs
The number of legs, eight, is a historical accident. This was how the trail was originally described by Colin Meurk, and while the legs are more-or-less consistent in size, the effort and time required can vary considerably. Some further division of the legs could result in 15 legs of about 10km or less, and make legs over the Port Hills easier to complete in a day by reducing the distance involved in each.
If we pursue this option, we will require replacement and new additional signage.
Further signage would also improve information delivery to people starting at alternative access points along the route.