Dunes Wetlands

 

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The Dunes Wetlands leg of the Christchurch 360 Trail runs from the bridge over the Avon River on Pages Rd to the Spencer Beach Holiday Park.

The route includes the Burwood Red Zone, the wonderful Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park, Bottle Lake Forest, and coastal dunes.

The leg is 15.9km long and will take 6 to 7 hours for a walker to complete. A convenient place to break the leg in two is the Queenspark entrance into Bottle Lake Forest.

Description of Route

You can find a Google Map of the route here.

Start near the roundabout next to the Pages Rd bridge over the Avon River, and head north west along the bank of the Avon. At Wainoni Rd, turn left, cross the bridge, and then follow the bank of the river upstream. Pass under the Anzac Rd bridge using the underpass. Note that this underpass may flood at high tide. Once on the western side of Anzac Drive, use the pedestrian/cycle lane to cross the river using the bridge. Then at the roundabout, turn left and continue west on New Brighton Rd.

Between the New Brighton Rd intersections of Brooker Ave and Dunair Drive is Corsers Stream emerging from what is now the Burwood Red Zone since the 2010/2011 earthquakes. Cross New Brighton Road and head North along the eastern bank of the stream. The path turns east to join Brooker Ave; continue along Brooker Ave until you cross the stream, then go up along the western bank of the stream, adjacent to Donnell Sports Park. Note that the toilets and drinking fountain here are not operational due to earthquake damage. The track alongside the stream has suffered in the earthquakes, and reduced ground levels make the ground swampy, so you may need to walk closer to the fields. At the north end of the Donnell Sports Park, turn left to skirt around the pond. There is a track that carries up alongside the stream, but it is very boggy and a detour around the pond is advisable. Once on the other side of the pond, continue north to Travis Rd. Cross Travis Rd with caution, as it is a busy arterial route. There is a pedestrian refuge to use, between the bus shelters on either side of the road. Head west along the track alongside Travis Rd that skirts the wetland, turning north on the Travis Wetland Walkway when the track heads away from the road. When the track forks, take the right option, and eventually you will come upon the Travis Wetland Information Centre at the end of Beach Rd. You can find out more about the wonderful Travis Wetland here. Consider taking the time to do a full loop of the Travis Wetlands Walkway.

From the Travis Wetland Information Centre, take the Travis Wetland Walkway north up to where it exits onto and crosses Mairehau Rd. Turn right up Putake Drive. Follow the footpaths along Putake Dr to the end, where it almost meets Landfill Avenue.

There are many options for routes through Bottle Lake Forest, both roads and trails. Due to the use of the landfill site for dumping and sorting materials from the earthquake demolitions, there is an exclusion zone within the forest limiting some options. As harvesting and replanting of the forest occurs, tracks are changed. As a result, the Christchurch 360 Trail route through the forest may at times be redefined. You can choose almost any available option you like to make your way to the north-east end of the forest; the nominal route leads east over a man-made hill, and out to a track that runs north through the sand dunes. The directions described were correct at the time of writing (September 2014).

Go east along the treeline to the end of Apple Road. Go north up Apple Rd a short distance, then east along 25th Avenue along the treeline, as far as Bravo Rd. Turn up Bravo Rd until you get to the Blue Track for walkers, head east from here and continue following the Blue Track.

When you get to Linea Road, turn north and look for the walkway that goes off to the right over the hillock. Stay to the pedestrian trail to avoid conflicts with MTBers. Cross Victor Rd to head straight east to Whiskey Rd. Turn north on Whiskey Rd, and follow it as far as 20th Avenue. Turn right to join the Southern Pegasus Bay Track north.

Follow the track north all the way to the surf livesaving clubrooms, then head west into Spencer Park. Continue through Spencer park, past the camping ground office, and cross Heyders Rd to enter Seafield Park. The  sign marking the leg end and the start of the Brooklands Mouth leg is near Adrenaline Forest.

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 number of places where the Dunes Wetlands 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: Pages Rd bridge over the Avon River. Park vehicles along Wairoa St near the  Pages Rd bridge.

2.3km 60 mins

Corsers Stream, New Brighton Rd: There is ample streetside parking on New Brighton Rd.

2.7km 1hr 30 mins

Travis Wetlands Information Centre: Travis Wetlands Nature Heritage Park has a carpark at the end of Beach Rd.

2.75km 1 hr 30 mins

Bottle Lake Apple Rd Carpark or Putake Dr, Queenspark: There is a carpark providing access to Bottle Lake’s Apple Rd. Alternatively, there is streetside parking in Queenspark, at the end of Putake Dr and nearby streets.

10km 4 hours

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

Hazards

Traffic: The Christchurch 360 Trail passes alongside some roads that experience heavy traffic flows at times. There are places where it is necessary to cross roads. 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.

Track flooding: The track goes along the footpath under the Anzac Dr bridge, and due to slumping from the earthquakes, this path is under water at high tide.

Things to see

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

Description walking anti-clockwise:-

Cockayne Reserve

This reserve can be seen across the Ōtākaro/Avon, at the beginning of this section of the trail. In 1951, the 8-ha site was a dense swamp containing a fair representation of the flora that existed before European settlement. It was planned to be a wild garden for native plants and a bird sanctuary. In 1977, the New Brighton Horticultural Society suggested it be named for  Leonard Cockayne, one of the most prominent botanists in New Zealand in the early 20th century. Cockayne had bought, in 1892, a nearby property in Wainoni, Tarata, at the corner of Eureka Road and what is now Anzac Drive. There he established an experimental garden for botanical purposes, as well as advocating the establishment of experimental plant research stations in New Zealand. In 1897 he founded the Canterbury Beautifying Association. The city council commenced a restoration programme for the reserve in 1984, subsequently including a walkway. However the walkway has not been operational since the 2010-11 earthquakes.

Wainoni

The suburb of Wainoni was named for the home of William Bickerton (1842-1929), from Maori for bend in the river, built in 1884 on the south side of the Avon River at the bend where Porritt Park was established. Generally regarded as little better than a desert, the area originally known as the Sand Hills district, between Christchurch and New Brighton, was flat land humped up into a series of low, shifting sand hills, barren except for a few hardy native plants. In 1875 the Architect and Christchurch City Surveyor Cornelius Cuff (1837-1901) purchased all of the area that would become known as Wainoni. From the early 1880s Cuff subdivided much of his land into rural-recreational blocks of 20 to 30 acres. With the advent of sewerage connections from the late-1940s Wainoni developed, especially in the 1960s, as a suburb of predominantly three-bedroom weather board houses on quarter acre sections.

Wainoni Road Bridge

Approaching the bridge the trail passes an ‘avenue’ of ngaio trees (Myoporum laetum). These trees, endemic to New Zealand including the Chatham Islands, grow to a height of four metres and are common in coastal areas.

Anzac Drive Bridge

Anzac Drive was named in honour of the Burwood-New Brighton people who served New Zealand in overseas conflicts. Officially opened in 2000, it was the first stage of the Burwood expressway. The bridge across the Avon features streetlights atop wands on decorated concrete supports.

Anzac Bridge

Anzac Bridge with lights on wands; pied shag in the foreground

Mahinga Kai

After crossing Anzac Bridge, the trail turns left along New Brighton Road. However immediately opposite, across New Brighton Road and beside Anzac Drive, is a reserve which is being developed as an exemplar project for what is known as Mahinga Kai. Mahinga kai is the concept that exemplifies the complex, interconnected cultural beliefs and practices of Ngāi Tahu in relation to the environment, describing not only the species gathered but the places and practices involved in doing so. It includes the direct and indirect use of resources for ceremonial, medicinal and sustenance purposes. To achieve this Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, the Avon Ōtākaro Network and the Canterbury Waterways Research Centre have agreed to work together with the aim of developing an environmental infrastructure which includes recognition of cultural and heritage values, restoration and enhancement of ecosystems, natural habitat, biodiversity, inanga spawning, pathway connections, stormwater treatment, land drainage, food production and active and passive recreation. The proposal is an ecological reserve from the city to the sea, including restoration of mahinga kai, and is inseparable from the restoration of natural habitat, water quality and biodiversity.

Burwood Red Zone

Upon crossing New Brighton Road and following Corsers Stream, the trail enters the Burwood Residential Red Zone. The February 2011 earthquake  caused such severe liquefaction and slumping towards the Avon River that the ground was deemed unsuitable to rebuild on. The government purchased the land from residents, taking over their insurance claims, In total, 7300 properties on flat land were zoned red, covering 630 hectares.

Corsers Stream

Corsers Stream is named for E.W.Corser an early landowner in the area. In 1883, Corser sold what is now Travis Swamp (see below) to William Henry Travis. The stream drains Travis Wetland into the Ōtākaro/Avon. Immediately commencing the trail beside the stream, on the right, is what was Corsers Stream (or Brooker) Reserve. At the NE entrance of the reserve is a bronze plaque set on a large rock commemorating Stephen and Rebecca Brooker. Stephen Brooker (1819-1899), a hansom cab-driver in Christchurch, is attributed with giving New Brighton its name. The trail leaves Brooker Street to cross Donnell Sports Park. At the NW part of the park, Corsers Stream forms a pond which has a sizeable stand of raupō. Landcare Research relates that Maori made versatile use of raupō. The dry leaves are the traditional material used for covering poi, which are then filled with the fluffy down from the seed heads. Traditionally, raupō stalks were used for thatching the walls and roofs of whare (houses) and storehouses, and the down was used to stuff bedding. The leaves were used for canoe sails and kites, while bundles of the stalks made temporary rafts. The starchy rhizomes were an important food, and the yellow pollen was gathered and baked into a sweet, light cake.

Travis Wetland

After more than a century of trying to farm this extensive wetland, developers proposed filling the ‘swamp’ in for housing. However, Anne Flanagan and others had an alternative vision and in 1992 a trust was established to preserve the wetland and develop it as a nature heritage park. In 1997, the Christchurch City Council purchased more land to extend the park to cover 119 hectares. Today it is an urban wetland of international renown. Fifty-five species of birds make their home here. The wetland is also home to endangered species such as the native short-finned eel, the Canterbury mudfish and the Common and McCann’s skinks. Wetland flora species are also well represented including azolla (water fern), which can be seen from the Information Kiosk.

Water fern

Azolla – water fern

After passing the entrance to the Information Kiosk, the trail passes, on the right, what was once a cowshed and also a red barn. These are reminders of when the wetland was farmed. The concrete (milking) shed was used by the Florance family for a town milk supply herd of cows up to the 1970s.

Tumara Park

Essentially a 21st century suburban development, for which the Community Board requested Maori names. The trail goes north along Putake Drive (meaning bushy flax),  passing Titirangi Reserve on the right.

Bottle Lake Forest

As early as 1853, Bottle Lake Forest was part of a sheep run. In 1878 the Christchurch City Council bought 1,330 acres under the Waste Lands Act, 1858, and began planting pine trees in 1912.  The forest includes a number of small ponds, but the bottle-shaped lake – near what is now Windsor Golf Course – from which the forest takes its name disappeared as land was converted to farmland. As with Travis Wetland, developers had their eye on the forest for housing estates. However, once such development was declined, the forest, although still operating as a production forest, was opened to the public as a recreational area in 1975. As a result, walking, mountain biking and horse riding trails snake through the forest, with the 360 trail variously using either the forest roads or the walking tracks. There is also a Visitor’s Centre at the main carpark, off Waitikiri Drive. While appearing to be somewhat of a monoculture, toadstools, ferns, mosses and orchids can be found in the forest. Currently, the forest also hosts a landfill, which was due to be scaled down but with the 2010-11 earthquakes this has been postponed. The landfill is now being used extensively for dumping demolition rubble from the CBD. Large quantities of liquefaction silt removed from residential properties and city streets have also been deposited.

Horse riding

Recreation at Bottle Lake. Photo credit: Carol Fowler

Junction of 20th Avenue and Whiskey Road

At one stage some of the names for the forest roads duplicated central city names. However, reporting, for example, a fire at the junction of Colombo Street and Bealey Avenue proved confusing, so the roads were renamed. In general E-W roads were named 12th Avenue, 13th Avenue, etc., while N-S roads were named after radio call signs: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, etc. But as there already was Alpha Avenue in Papanui, at Bottle Lake, A is for Apple.

Spencer Park

With the arrival of Europeans, the Spencer Park area became part of a sandhills sheep run. By 1912 most of the vegetation had been destroyed. Stripped of its covering the sand began to drift inland. Marram grass and pines were planted to stabilise the land. During the depression of the 1930s, unemployed labour was used to lay out a 10 hectare picnic ground. Today, including the camping ground, Spencer Park comprises 81 hectares.

This section of the trail finishes across Heyders Road at the entrance to Seafield Park.

Flora & Fauna

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.

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:

Fantail

Fantail (Pied 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.

Grey warbler/Riroriro Gerygone igata:

Grey Warbler

Grey Warbler. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

The grey warbler’s long, melodic song is familiar background music throughout much of New Zealand. Smaller than a sparrow, the grey warbler has a grey-brown back, a white belly and red eyes. They feed on insects in the treetops, and this habit and its size means the grey warbler is more often heard than seen.

The grey warbler is endemic to New Zealand.

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.

Swamp Harrier Circus approximans:

Swamp Harrier

Swamp Harrier. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

A large hawk that likes open fields, coastal fringes, and wetlands. Food includes small birds and mammals, insects, and small reptiles. They will feed on road-kill carrion.

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.

Welcome Swallow Hirundo neoxena:

Swallow

Swallow building nest. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

A native bird, they self-introduced from Australia. Named in Australia as they appeared in South Australia at the start of spring, a welcome sign that warmer weather was on the way. They are tolerant of many habitats, but are most often seen around wetland areas and the coast. They hunt small insects on the wing. They also drink while flying, swooping low over water and scooping it up. They are acrobatic and fast fliers, recognisable in silhouette by their forked tails. They create nests from mud and grasses, often fixing these to man-made structures such as bridges or houses, under shelter and out of the sun.

White-faced Heron, Egretta novaehollandiae.

White-faced Heron

White-faced Heron. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

White heron/Kotuku (native) Ardea alba modesta:

Kotuku

Kotuku. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

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:

Scaup

NZ Scaup. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

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:

Paradise Shelducks

Paradise Shelducks F+M. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

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

Pukeko. Photo credit: Jeremy Taylor

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.

Services

Public Toilets

The nearest toilets to the start of the Dunes Wetlands Leg are in Shaw Ave, off Hawke St. Public toilets that were in Donnell Sports Park are out of commission dues to earthquake damage. There are public toilets at the information centre in Travis Wetlands. Near Bottle Lake, there are public toilets in Broadhaven Park. At the end of the Wetlands Leg, there are toilets at Spencer Park.

Food & Refreshments

 

Accommodation

 

Public Transport

Visit metroinfo.co.nz for bus trip planning, route maps, and timetables.

Yellow Y-Line buses run along Pages Rd on their bi-directional route between New Brighton and Rolleston, 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.

Bus 135 follows a short bi-directional route between Burwood and New Brighton. It passes along Mairehau Rd along the top of the Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park, and also nears the Apple Rd carpark, running along the southern end of Waitikiri Drive. It might be used to get access to the 80 route or the Orange or Yellow Line routes which all pass through the central bus exchange.

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 150 gets the closest to the end of the Dunes Wetlands 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 above, Bus 100 which runs between Shirley and Halswell via Wigram, or the Orange Line described above. 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.

Nearby Points of Interest

New Brighton Pier