Brooklands Mouth

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The Brooklands Mouth leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail runs from Seafield Park (adjacent to Spencer Beach Holiday Park) to Whites Crossing at the Waimakariri River.

The route includes Seafield Park, the Brooklands Lagoon walk, the Te Rauakaaka Reserve, and the small villages of Brooklands, Stewarts Gully, and Kainga.

The leg is 10.3 km long and will take about 4 hours for a walker to complete.

Description of Route

You can find a Google Map of the route here.

Start at Seafield Park, near Adrenaline Forest (this is opposite Spencer Park). Head towards the lookout next to the lagoon, then follow the track along the west side of Brooklands lagoon, all the way to the Brooklands subdivision, now red-zoned since the earthquakes in 2010/2011. You will arrive at a now empty street called Harbour Rd. Turn left, then first right onto Blue Lagoon Drive. Continue on up to the Styx River, then follow the stopbank to the west.

Cyclists on stopbank

Cyclists on stopbank. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

Continue along the stopbank towards Stewarts Gully.  Before you get to Stewarts Gully, the track turns off through some forest, heading north-west, to join a track along the bank of the Waimakariri River. Continue along this track between the River and Stewards Gully and Kainga. This track leads under the rail bridge and the Main North Rd bridge, then under the twin lane bridges of the SH1/Christchurch Northern Motorway bridge.

Just west of the motorway bridges, the track gets to a carpark next to a stream. Cross the small bridge here, and you are at Whites Crossing, the end of this leg and the start of the Waimakariri Braids.

Download these route directions here

Access Points

You need not tackle the entire leg in one go, if you do not have the time or the strength. There are a couple of places on the Brooklands Mouth where you will be able to park up and start the walk at intermediate points.

Here are a couple of natural segments for the walk, with approximate walking times between these points.

Start: Spencer Park/Seafield Park. There is car parking at both Spencer Park and Seafield Park.

Harbour Rd, Brooklands:

Seddon St, Kainga:

End: Whites Crossing

Route Options

Things to see

You can find a Google Map of Things To See here.

Seafield Park

This section of the trail begins at the Heyders Road entrance to Seafield Park. The park is approximately 70 hectares and extends between the township of Spencerville and the Brooklands red zone, alongside the western edge of Brooklands Lagoon. The name derives from ‘Seafield Avenue’, resulting from a competition held for naming the main street of the then proposed Brooklands settlement in the 1920s.

Adrenalin Forest

Before commencing the trail, immediately on the left is Adrenalin Forest featuring high wires, a flying fox and many other challenges to give even the least acrophobic an adrenalin rush. Past here the trail follows the Brooklands Lagoon Walkway, through to the bird hide (30 minutes on left) was initiated by the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society.

Lookout over Brooklands Lagoon

Te Riu o Te Aika Kawa / Brooklands Lagoon

The lagoon is one of the most important tidal estuaries in Canterbury – both as a largely intact natural ecosystem and as a core habitat for wildlife. Over 100 bird species have been recorded and more than 5,000 wetland birds can be found here at peak times in summer and autumn. With such numbers the lagoon has also been recognised as of national importance for its bird habitats as well as for its salt marsh/salt meadow vegetation. Alongside the trail the webs of nursery web spiders can be seen on branches of marsh ribbonwood. Also, in places, orb weaver spider webs can be seen.

Bird hide next to Brooklands Lagoon

Shack of Remembrance

About two-thirds of the way along the edge of the lagoon, at Barkers Brook is what appears to be a large maimai (duck shooter’s hide). Closer inspection reveals that it is a ‘shack of remembrance’ built to remember ‘past loved ones’.  Nevertheless, across the lagoon many, often crude, maimais can be seen. The duck shooting season starts each year on the first Saturday of May, and runs – for most birds – until the end of July.

Shack of Remembrance

Shack of Remembrance

Brooklands Red Zone

Already a popular holiday resort, subdivision for permanent living at Brooklands began in 1921. However, the settlement was red-zoned following the 2010-11 earthquakes. The trail enters the red zone on departing Seafield Park, and going north along on Beacon Street. Immediately on the right, however, can be seen two inhabited houses and altogether at least a dozen such houses remain. As a result the children’s play equipment at Brooklands Domain, through which the trail passes, appears to be still maintained, although the tennis courts are abandoned. Further north the trail crosses Kainga Road and a hundred metres or so west is the Brooklands Fire Station. It was not red-zoned and therefore, with one engine and a rural fire water tanker, remains operational.

Styx River / whitebait spawning

The spring-fed Styx River rises in Harewood and meanders for over 20 kilometres across the northern part of Christchurch towards Brooklands. Where the trail, now running west, crosses the river is a spawning area for whitebait, as indicated by the signboard. All whitebait species spend part of their lifecycle at sea after they emerge from eggs, returning to freshwater habitats as juveniles. Between February and April they migrate downstream in large shoals to the lower reaches of rivers where there is tidal movement. Here they congregate, waiting for exceptionally high ‘spring’ tides. When such occur, groups of whitebait push their way into the flooded bankside vegetation, at the water’s edge, seeking out tall, dense vegetation to spawn in.

Te Rauakaaka Nature Reserve

The area covered by the Styx river marshes and westward along the south bank of the Waimakariri River is part of Te Rauakaaka Nature Reserve. Environment Canterbury plans to enhance the biodiversity of this area, replacing exotic forest with native dryland coastal forest, extending salt meadows and restoring habitat for threatened species such as banded dotterel and whitebait.

Waimakariri River

After following the stopbank for some distance the trail drops down to go through a section of pine forest and come out beside the Waimakariri River. In Maori, Waimakariri has several meanings, one of which is river of cold rushing water. At this point the river flows expansively from bank to bank, belying its braided nature upriver (see also notes for the Waimakariri Braids section).

Fishing near Te Rauakaaka

Fishing on the Waimakariri River

Stewarts Gully

The trail beside the river then reaches the Stewarts Gully Sailing Club, formed in 1950. Beyond here some of the rooftops of the Stewarts Gully settlement can be seen above the stopbank on the left. Stewarts Gully is named after the Stewart family who arrived from Scotland in 1865. The family ran a flax mill on the banks of the Waimakariri River, just about the site of the present railway bridge. A son, James, had a farm in the area and grew oats and barley. Before World War II Stewarts Gully was a holiday camp with many baches, some built in the late 1880s. During World War II, the 1st Battalion of the Canterbury Regiment commandeered Stewarts Gully as a training site for the defence of the coast from the threat of a Japanese invasion. After the war, the area returned to baches and low-cost housing. The Stewarts Gully Residents Association owns an eight-hectare block to the west, and residents own their own homes but lease the land from the association. To the east, as part of Riverlea Estate, land titles are owned individually.


Upon returning to the stopbank, the trail passes the neighbouring settlement of Kainga. The Kainga Hall can be seen from where one overlooks Gillespies Road. There are public toilets at the hall, which have been repaired since the earthquakes. From the hall, across Kainga Road, is the attractively planted Kainga Park. In the 1850s, near Stewarts Gully,  Jackson’s Ferry, using punts, crossed the Waimakariri River. From Belfast it was accessed by the forerunner of Kainga Road, and was considered very difficult travel.

Main North Road

The trail passes beneath both the northern railway line and Main North Road. The latter provides the most direct route from Belfast to Kaiapoi but is no longer on the main road north, see below, Whites Crossing. The railway line between Christchurch and Kaiapoi was opened on 29 April 1872.

Tasmanian hardwoods

Immediately after coming out from under the road bridge, the trail passes, on the left, a stand of Tasmanian hardwood. The strong greens and rounded shapes of these eucalypts provide a marked contrast to the paler, pencil-thin poplars. Timber from these hardwoods is popular for both strength and attractiveness.


Hardwoods and poplars

Whites Crossing

The trail goes under the northern motorway, the bridge here being a dual carriageway, with each carriageway carrying traffic in opposite directions. The motorway was constructed in 1967 thereby replacing the Main North Road as the main route from Christchurch to North Canterbury. Whites Crossing is named for William White, who in 1862, despite the opposition of officialdom, privately  constructed the first bridge to link Christchurch and Kaiapoi across the Waimakariri – near the site of what was then known as Fenton’s Ferry.

This section of the trail concludes after crossing a footbridge over the Otukaikino Stream.

Thanks to Stuart Payne for text and photos.

Flora & Fauna



Fantail/Piwakawaka Rhipidura fuliginosa


Fantail (Black morph). Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

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.

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.

Black swan Cygnus atratus:

The black swan is an Australian swan that was introduced to New Zealand in the 1860s. It is thought that black swans have also flown from Australia and that most of the current population are descended from self-introduced birds rather than arising from the birds acclimatised in the 1860s.

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.

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.

White-faced Heron, Egretta novaehollandiae.

White-faced Heron

White-faced Heron. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

White heron/Kotuku (native) Ardea alba modesta:

The kotuku, or white heron, is treasured by Maori due to its rarity. It breeds at Okarito Lagoon on the West Coast, but is occasionally seen on the Avon-Heathcote estuary or in the Linwood Avenue canal. With a nationwide population of only 100-200, the kotuku is endangered in New Zealand, although the species is common elsewhere.

The kotuku’s bright white plumage and black bill and legs distinguish it from other birds in the waterways. Kotuku feed in shallow waters on small vertebrates and invertebrates.

The kotuku features on New Zealand’s $2 coin.

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.

New Zealand shoveler Anas rhynchotis variegata:

This duck is similar in size and shape to the grey duck and mallard, but has a longer bill with a rounder tip. Like the grey duck and mallard, shovelers are dabbling ducks, feeding from the surface rather than diving.

The New Zealand population is about 30,000 and shovelers are occasionally seen on Christchurch waterways.

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.

Little Shag.

Little Shag

Little Shag. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

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.

Pied Stilt.

Pied Stilt.

Pied Stilt. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor


Public Toilets

Spencer Park

Brooklands boat ramp carpark

Kainga Hall

Whites Crossing carpark

Food & Refreshments


Spencer Park Camping Ground

Belfast Tavern, cnr Main North Road and Dickeys Rd

Public Transport

Visit for bus trip planning, route maps, and timetables.

Bus 150 gets the closest to the start of the Brooklands Mouth leg; the stop is on Lower Styx Rd at the end of Heyders Rd, about 750m away. This is only a short bi-directional route between Spencerville and The Palms mall in Shirley. It could be used to link up to Bus 40 which returns to the central bus exchange, Bus 60 described below, Bus 100 which runs between Shirley and Halswell via Wigram, or the Orange Line described below. The green Orbiter buses also turn at the Marshlands Rd/Shirley Rd intersection. This route encircles the city linking up many other bus routes, and buses run continually in both directions.

The Orange O-Line buses run along Mairehau Rd along the top of the Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park. The O-Line is a bi-directional route between Halswell and Queenspark, via the central bus exchange.

Bus 60 is a bi-directional route that cuts diagonally south-west/north-east across the city between Hillmorton and New Brighton, then it drops south parallel with the coast to Southshore. It’s route includes the central bus exchange. The bus passes along Travis Road below the Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park.

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.

Nearby Points of Interest

Otukaikino Reserve