The Future of the Christchurch 360

What will the future hold for the Christchurch 360 Trail?  We hope it will be bright.  We foresee many tourists visiting the city and enjoying the trail as well as locals getting out and about appreciating our local environment.

But there are still aspects that need to be progressed in order to make the reality of the Christchurch 360 Trail align better with the original vision.

Completing the circuit

In 2023 we finally removed the disconnect within the Avonhead Gardens segment.   There is now a marked route from McLeans Island through to Riccarton Bush by way of the grasslands, McLeans Island Rd around the top of the airport to the underpass at the roundabout of SH1 and Harewood Rd.  Unfortunately, the route does require us to walk alongside roads that have speed limits in excess of 50km/h, but it has resolved the issue of crossing SH1.  

Route improvements

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.