The Waimakariri Braids leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail runs from Whites Crossing to Mcleans Island Park.
The Waimakariri is a braided river, and that makes it a very special river environment, a home for some of our rarest birds. Check out the BRaid website, which explains in more detail the special ecology of our braided rivers and how we can protect it.
The track is approximately 18.8 km long, and will take a typical walker around 7 – 8 hrs.
Description of Route
You can find a Google Map of the route here.
Start at Whites Crossing, next to the confluence of the Otukaikino Stream and the Waimakariri River. The Christchurch 360 Trail follows the existing Templars Island Track west.
Continue west until Coutts Island Road turns hard left into Haul Rd. Just before this corner, the track leaves the road and goes behind the shingle works, to then rejoin Haul Road. Cross Haul Rd, exercising care as this is used by heavy quarrying equipment.
Templars Island Track is going to be broken at this point for a while. The track as drawn indicates approximately where the track will go in future, but expect that this will have a security fence around it for the next few months. Major excavations are happening replacing flood protection measures, and this is ripping up part of the old Templars Island Track. If there are markers indicating an alternate route, use it; otherwise, you may have to find your own way around the fenced off area as best you can. Look for a way to get onto or near the Coringa Loop track.
Head west next to the Coringa Loop cycle track, until you get to the Ashford Rd walking track, then head north. The track turns left at Waterhole Road, then turns away from Waterhole Road, before eventually joining back up to it. Follow Waterhole Rd west until you get to Main South Stopbank, where you turn left.
About 150m along the stopbank, look for the walking track off to the right. Follow this south, and it will lead you to the sign marking the end of this leg.
You need not tackle the entire leg in one go, if you do not have the time or the strength. However there is a large section in the middle of this leg that does not offer alternative routes of travel, and while access is readily obtained along Coutts Island Road, there are no public transport facilities to provide travel to various points along this section. You will need to arrange your own pick-up and drop-offs. There are plenty of places to leave a vehicle parked along the route.
Here are natural segments for the walk, with approximate walking times between these points.
Start: Whites Crossing. Car parking is available here.
7.25km 3 hrs
The Sanctuary: Find a safe place to park along Coutts Island Rd.
6.7km 2 hrs 45 mins
Haul Road/River Road ATV field car park: There is parking catering to the motorbike and ATV field.
6.2km 2 hrs 35 mins
End: Mcleans Island Park. Car parking is available here.
Traffic: The Christchurch 360 Trail passes alongside some narrow metal surfaced roads, and vehicles may travel at open road speeds. In some places there may be heavy machinery operating. There are places where it is necessary to cross roads. Please use 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.
Swimming: The Waimakariri River can be dangerous, especially where the river may carry a swimmer under over-hanging willows. If you decide to cool off with a dip in the river, please use caution.
Things to see
Flora & Fauna
Black-billed gull/Tarapuka Larus bulleri: The worlds most endangered gull, endemic to NZ. They nest on gravel riverbeds.
Wrybill/Ngutu pere Anarhynchus frontalis: The only bird in the world to have an asymmetrically, laterally curved beak. The bend is always to the right, and allows the wrybill to seek nymphs and other food from under stones on river margins, without having to move or flip the stones. Wrybills rely on braided rivers for their breeding, relying on the rounded grey sandstone pebbles of the South Island braided rivers to camouflage their eggs. They migrate for the winter to the northern parts of the North Island.
Black-backed Gull/Karoro Larus dominicanus dominicanus:
The black-backed gull is New Zealand’s largest gull. It has a white body with black upperparts, yellow legs and a yellow bill. Chicks peck at the red spot at the tip of the parent’s bill to stimulate regurgitation. Fledged offspring are mottled brown.
Black-backed gulls scavenge from human populations and are more aggressive than the red-billed gulls they are often seen with.
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.
Pukeko Porphyrio porphyria:
Pukeko are often seen alongside waterways and in paddocks. It has blue and black plumage, a red bill and shield and long red legs. Pukeko eat mostly vegetation, but will eat eggs, invertebrates and other small animals.
Pukeko chicks are black and fluffy, with their parents’ large feet.
There are toilets at Mcleans Island Park at the end of the leg.
Food & Refreshments
Belfast Tavern, cnr Main North Road and Dickeys Rd
There are no buses to Whites Crossing. The nearest bus stops are on Main North Rd just south of Dickeys Rd. The buses using these stops are 95 and the blue B-Line buses.
Bus 95 runs bi-directionally between the central bus exchange and small towns north of the city – Woodend, Pegasus, and Waikuku.
The B-Line bus runs bi-directionally between Princess Margaret Hospital in the south of Christchurch, through the central bus exchange, and on up to Belfast and sometimes Rangiora. Not all services run as far as Rangiora. At times when the service does not extend out to Rangiora, the bus also turns back before the bus stops near Dickeys Rd, and you may need to use bus stops further south on Main North Rd, south of Richill St for the return to the city, or when heading north, where the bus turns around at the intersection of Factory and Tyrone Streets.
No buses run to Mcleans Island. You will need to make your own pick-up or drop-off arrangements.
Nearby Points of Interest
Coringa Loop MTB track and other cycle tracks
Mcleans Island Golf
Motorcross and ATV park
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.
Isaac Conservation Heritage Village (Under development, not open)