The Avonhead Gardens leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail is intended to run from Mcleans Island Rd to Riccarton Bush. However, no footpath infrastructure exists alongside the roads between McLeans Island and Avonhead Park, so we have not been permitted to mark this portion of the trail. As a result, the marked portion of the Avonhead Gardens leg runs from Avonhead Park to Riccarton Bush. There is also a small marked section across the Mcleans Grasslands Park.
Description of Route
You can find a Google Map of the route here.
The track is approximately 7.5 km long between Avonhead Park and Riccarton Bush, and will take a typical walker around 3 hours 20 minutes. If you decide to find a route between the Mcleans Island endpoint of the Waimakariri Braids and Avonhead Park, expect to add about 15km to the length of the leg.
At the end of Chesterfield Mews, there is an access path into Avonhead Park.
When you enter Avonhead Park, you find a path leading along a line of trees. There is a swale here that is the start of one of the tributaries that forms the Avon River. From here, we will follow the headwaters of the Avon River as best we can through the city as far as Riccarton Bush.
Turn right, and follow the path through Avonhead Park to the laneway out of the park in the southern corner, into Greystoke Lane. There is another lane at the end of Greystoke Lane, heading south through Karnak Reserve, to join up with Karnak Cres. Turn left into Karnak Cres, then left into Ansonby St. Turn left into Apsley Drive, and go north until you are opposite the entry into Crosbie Park. Cross Apsley Drive safely, and follow the water course through Crosbie Park, keeping it on your left. At the southern corner of Crosbie Park, exit onto Woodbury St.
Continue east along Woodbury St, through the roundabout, and onto Staveley St. Turn south onto Avonhead Rd, then east onto Parkstone Ave. Look for the laneway access into Corfe Reserve on the south side of Parkstone Ave. Continue through Corfe Reserve along the watercourse, exiting out of the reserve at the eastern end, south onto Corfe St. Go east to Brodie St, turn left, then cross at Athol Terrace.
Just north of Athol Tce is a track through a reserve alongside the watercourse. Follow this to Peer St. Turn left on Peer St, and cross at the signalised crossing.
The University of Canterbury has not granted permission for us to place our markers on their property, so through the next section, markers are sparse and may appear on lamp posts that are not ideally situated for providing clear direction. The following directions should assist with navigation, or check the online map: Head south on Waimari Rd to Homestead Lane, then turn left. Follow Homestead Lane to Ilam Rd, then turn left. Continue up Ilam Rd to the pedestrian refuge near University Drive. Cross Ilam Rd safely, and turn right into University Drive. Follow the footpath on the southern side of University Drive, all the way through the University to Clyde Road. Turn right on Clyde Road. From here, the trail should again be marked more clearly.
Continue down to the crossing point near Hinau Street. Follow Hinau St to Miro St. Go down Miro St to Totara St. Turn left on Totara St to the end of the road, and right into Ngahere St. At the end of Ngahere St is an entrance into Riccarton Bush and Riccarton House.
Follow the path into Riccarton Bush toward Riccarton House. On your right you will see an historic cottage, the oldest building on the Canterbury Plains. A path branches off to the right here, to the fenced off part of Riccarton Bush. This reserve is protected by predator-proof fencing to keep out mammals that prey on the native wildlife. Follow the path to do a loop through Riccarton Bush. You will enter and exit via a double-interlocked-door system that forms part of the predator defenses.
On leaving the fenced part of Riccarton Bush, return to the path alongside the Ilam Stream. You will pass the historical Riccarton House. Continue down the driveway’s avenue of trees to the gate on Kahu Rd. Turn right into Kahu Rd, then right into Titoki St, where this leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail ends.
You need not tackle the entire leg in one go, if you do not have the time or the strength. Much of the Avonhead Gardens leg runs closely to the road network, and there are several places where you will be able to park up and start the walk at intermediate points.
Here are a number of natural segments for the walk, with approximate walking times between these points.
Start: There is residential street parking in Chesterfield Mews and Karnak Crescent.
1.2km 35 mins
Crosbie Park: There is a carpark inside Crosbie Park, off Cutts Rd.
2km 50 mins
Corfe Reserve: Park in the residential streets Corfe St or Parkstone Ave.
2.3km 65 mins
Canterbury University: There is public carparking off University Drive.
2.8km 1 hour 10 mins
End: There are car parks in Rimu Street adjacent to Riccarton Bush Park, and residential street parking in Ngahere St.
Traffic: The Christchurch 360 Trail passes alongside some roads that experience heavy traffic flows at times, and vehicles may travel at open road speeds. There are places where it is necessary to cross roads, including multi-lane highways. Please use the crossing facilities where provided, and exercise extreme caution at all times around traffic.
Cycles: The Christchurch City Council will not allow us to promote the Christchurch 360 as a cycling route, because a route promoted as a cycling route might be perceived by some users as having an implied suitability for cycling that could reduce their level of safety awareness, and as the Christchurch 360 Trail does not follow streets that meet standards required for cycleways, cyclists may be exposed to unacceptable risks. Because of that, we are not permitted to mark or recommend a cycle route option for the Christchurch 360. If you choose of your own initiative to follow the Christchurch 360 on your bike, please ride safely and responsibly, and follow the road rules.
Things to see
Mcleans Grassland Park: Between Mcleans Island Road and Conservators Rd is a Christchurch City Council Reserve that features a very special and easily overlooked ecosystem. Here are the dry grasslands, open and apparently rather barren, until you take close interest in the small plants that make up the grasslands. Note the fenced off areas that show what the grasslands would be like without grazing. Look also for a few ancient kowhai trees, some of which are being supplemented by new saplings planted in special restoration efforts.
Headwater catchment of the Avon River: Right from Avonhead Park, the swales and drains begin to feed tributaries of the Avon River. The trail attempts to follow as closely as possible the waterway from Avonhead Park. You will observe it grow and become more established the further you proceed downstream.
University of Canterbury grounds: The campus of the University of Canterbury is beautifully landscaped, with many mature trees and well cared for gardens, quads, and fields.
Riccarton Bush: A priceless taonga (treasure), an ecological island within suburbia. Riccarton Bush is the last remaining remnant of a beautiful podocarp forest that once spread widely across Canterbury. Here you will find examples of ancient Totara, Matai, Kahikatea, and Hinau, between 400 and 600 years old, along with many other species that make up the forest sub-canopy and floor. A predator-proof fence helps protect the native birds within the fence, including several kiwi. Outside the fence can be found one of the earliest (1843) European structures still remaining, Deans Cottage, home to the early settlers the Deans brothers John and William. Nearby is Riccarton House, a beautiful Victorian/Edwardian house, built by the Deans family from 1856, with additions in 1874 and 1900.
Flora & Fauna
Bellbird/Korimako Anthornis melanura:
The bellbird’s loud, melodious song can be heard in bush along the coast and waterways and in trees and patches of bush in the Port Hills. Bellbirds are easier to hear than see, as their dark olive plumage makes it easy for them to blend in to the surrounding foliage.
Bellbirds feed on nectar, insects and fruits, and they play an important role in pollinating native plant species.
The bellbird is endemic to New Zealand.
Fantail/Piwakawaka Rhipidura fuliginosa:
This friendly native is recognised by its long tail, acrobatic flight and tinny cheep. Fantails feed on insects in bush and shrub and are found in many different habitats. If you walk through bush and there are fantails nearby, they will come and check you out. Photos are difficult, however, as fantails seldom stay in one place for more than a moment.
There are two morphs. The most well-known, the pied morph, is dark brown, with a cream-coloured belly and black and white bands. The black morph is dark brown all over, with no banding and a white spot behind each eye. About a quarter of South Island fantails are black.
Silvereye or Waxeye/Tahou Zosterops lateralis:
The silvereye is slightly smaller than a sparrow, with an olive head, grey and buff body and a distinctive white ring around each eye. Young birds do not have the white rings. They have a quiet, high-pitched call.
The silvereye was first recorded in New Zealand in the 1830s and has since spread throughout both islands. Silvereyes tend to flock in flowering bushes. They eat insects, nectar and fruit.
Grey duck/Parera and Mallard Anas superciliosa (grey) and Anas platyrhynchos (mallard)
Grey ducks and mallards are found on many New Zealand lakes and rivers. Both male and female grey ducks are similar in appearance to mallard females. Because the two species interbreed, the plumage of male mallards varies considerably.
Mallards are larger and more dominant, and as a result grey ducks are critically endangered.
New Zealand scaup Aythya novaeseelandiae:
This small diving duck can be found in waterways around Christchurch. The male has bright yellow eyes and both male and female have dark brown plumage.
Paradise shelduck/Putakitaki Tadorna variegata:
The Paradise shelduck is large and goose-like and can be found in parks and along waterways throughout Christchurch. Often found in pairs, the female is the more striking bird, with a white head and chestnut-coloured body. The male is darker, with a black head.
In flight, the male gives a low honk, while the female answers with a higher-pitched call.
Ducklings are brown and white-striped, and fledged young resemble the male.
New Zealand Pigeon/Kereru Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae:
A much larger bird than the common rock pigeon, the New Zealand Pigeon has an iridescent green and purple head and back, bright white bib and belly and red bill and legs. When in flight, their wings make a distinctive heavy whirring sound
The kereru feeds on fruits and is an important disperser of the seeds of native plants.
In Christchurch, the Kereru is found mainly in and around the Botanic Gardens and Riccarton Bush, but they can occasionally be found in patches of bush in the Port Hills, especially near Victoria Park and the Cashmere Hills.
Avonhead Park, north-west corner.
Crosbie Park, off Woodbury Street.
Rotherham Street, Riccarton, near the Riccarton Bush end of the leg.
Food & Refreshments
On Staveley Street, near Withells Road, is a small shopping centre including a dairy.
The UCSA (University of Canterbury Students’ Association) has a café just off University Drive.
Near the airport, especially down Memorial Ave, a number of motels provide accommodation at average to premium rates.
Near Riccarton Bush, especially down Riccarton Ave, a number of motels provide accommodation at average to premium rates.
No buses run to Mcleans Island. You will need to make your own pick-up or drop-off arrangements.
Bus 130 runs near Avonhead Park, along Kedleston Drive.
Bus 130 runs along Kahu Rd with bus stops near the entrance to Riccarton Bush at the end of this leg.
Bus 130 runs bi-directionally between Hornby and Burnside, weaving crazily through Upper Riccarton, Riccarton, back towards Ilam, through Avonhead, before lurching up towards Burnside. So while it runs conveniently enough between (roughly) Avonhead Park and Riccarton Bush, you will almost certainly need to catch a connecting bus to get to anywhere useful.
Several busses run along Riccarton Road, besides the 130 – 100, 120, 140, 80, Orbiter, Purple (Airport to X), Yellow (Hornby (Rolleston) to X).
The 23 is a bi-directional link between Hyde Park in Avonhead and The Tannery mall in Woolston, via the central exchange.
Nearby Points of Interest
Orana Wildlife Park: Found on Mcleans Island Road, near the leg end point for the Waimakariri Braids and what should be the start point for the Avonhead Gardens. Orana Wildlife Park is the only zoo in New Zealand to feature open-range enclosures. There are giraffe, kiwi, a white rhino, gorillas, cheetah, zebra, hyena, gibbons, Sumatran tigers, and lions. An adult’s annual pass is only $69 and a child’s is only $19. It is open every day except Christmas Day, 10am to 5pm.
Christchurch International Airport: This may well be your access point to and from the city, if you are an international visitor. Besides airport services, there are a number of café dining options available, as well as gift stores.
Ilam Gardens: The old Ilam Homestead is surrounded by gardens featuring rhododendrons and azaleas, and beautifully groomed lawns. There are a number of Japanese-style bridges crossing the Ilam Stream.
Okeover and Dovedale Community Gardens: These gardens are community spaces, providing fresh organic produce to those in the community. It was established as an informal recreation and learning space for students and staff, but anyone, those associated with the University, and those in the community with an interest, can be involved. For more information, see the Sustainable Campus website.
Hagley Park: A massive 164 hectare (405 acre) park just to the west of the Christchurch CBD. It includes the Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the Canterbury Museum.
Westfield Mall, Riccarton: A large metropolitan mall, near the Riccarton Bush end of the leg. There are many options for dining and refreshment, with many additional retail options to explore.