Pelorus Bridge – Circle Walk
Dec 4th Christchurch
The sleep of the log like , followed by a leisurely breakfast. This place is beautiful, very similar to England in its vegetation, slightly warmer and drier in climate, perhaps, and we have a clover covered lawn, surrounded by roses, receiving the morning summer sun. Someone’s vision of heaven, and they don’t even live here themselves.
It’s not far from the city and there’s plenty of traffic noise this morning not to mention a gardener with a chainsaw, clearly employed to keep the immediate areas up to scratch, or not to scratch. Lawns, hedges trimmed while you wait? I ramble . . .And then play about with the time settings on my camera. I may have dislodged the battery when replacing the memory card.
Coffee on the veranda, with the awning pulled down part way in the bright sunshine. Then we decide we’ll walk into the CBD. All along the way there is some evidence of rebuilding after the earthquake damage from Feb 2011. As we walk along Victoria Road we see more of it. There’s a clock tower built for Queen Vic’s jubilee in 1897. The decorative ironwork at the top is bent, and we notice cracks in the brickwork, and the fact that the whole structure is held up by props at the base. It’s surrounded by the usual fence, with warning that it’s unsafe.
Closer in there are huge patches where buildings have been demolished.
We walk along close to the river – Avon is its English name. When we reach the safety-fenced Bridge of Remembrance, we turn left into the Re-Start container mall. Lively and hopeful in the face of tragedy and adversity. We shop a bit, and get a cold drink.
We go back to the bridge. The river is delightful with clear green water and ducks. There are grassy banks and further along you can have a ride in a punt. A darker note on the billboard – “we can show you where many of the city’s iconic buildings once stood. ”
We wander by the river through the park near the hospital and then the botanic gardens . All is green, peaceful and dappledly shady. Much like a hot summer day in England. Near a children’s paddling pool and playground we stop for an ice cream.
Gradually we make our way back, for a cuppa, and time to relax.
We walked again. This time to Mona Vale gardens, and Riccarton Bush. Both houses are still closed, and undergoing repairs, but the gardens at Mona Vale are spectacular. I can imagine my mother’s parents going into raptures over them. My grandparents always leap into my mind whenever I visit a well-tended display of roses.
Huge lawns sweep to the small river. Seats are dotted about, and a bridge with wooden sides recalls willow pattern plates.
A few people sit around, youngsters shout and laugh as they run through a water spray. A young woman lies down working on a laptop.
The large white conservatory, the Bath House, is empty, but near by the formal arches of the rose garden attract us, and just opposite, past a modern statue of Eros, is a pond full of water lilies – so full that young ducklings walk over the leaves towards the food source they’ve identified, picnicking lily-worshippers.
We sit in the shade at a picnic table for a while, then move away. Along the path I tread on a large dry leaf , so big that I think I’ve dropped something. I search through my bag – no camera. Back to the table and there it is. Ok, it’s my cheap one, but I’m pleased to find it within two minutes of losing it. Memo to self – check, double check.
Jane Deans was largely responsible for the planting. The bush is a section of native trees, now surrounded by a pest-proof fence. We noticed more birdsong in there – a tui was singing.
Our longest walk in N Z so far. About 10 km – up to the hill top Observatory and back the longer gentler way. We followed instructions from a local leaflet.
The only map we needed on a fine summer day was the one in the picture. The tracks are clear, well signed when they diverge, and easy to walk along. I had the photo on my camera – just in case!
|ready for action|
|not as steep as the Trig Track on Kapiti Island|
|out of the woods|
|welcome . . .|
After about 30 kilometres we see Lake Pukaki, another blue-green sheet fringed with snowy peaks. Aoraki Mount Cook stands out, its height and shape unmistakeable. We stop along with several others to take photographs. It looks perfect, with the detail of its eastern slopes picked out by the morning sunlight. As we approach the Visitor Centre the views just get better. There’s a shop selling salmon products – and coffee. There’s a varied display of historical information, and natural history, as well as the hydro-electric system.
A passing truck driver calls in to buy a pack of salmon. How odd that he can drive through this scenery almost every day as his job.
We scramble about on the boulders in search of the perfect photo. Harry asks a couple of young Dutch women if they’ll take one of the pair of us, and returns the favour. The view of the mountain holds us there for far longer than the cup of coffee. We turn north along the road to Mt Cook village. 55 kilometres.
There’s a viewpoint before many kilometres – Peter’s Lookout. Another photo op. We stop to look at some pictures for sale from the back of a car. Pat Prendergast worked as an illustrator for several government departments for seventeen years, she tells us. She’s also a climber, a member of the NZ Alpine Club, and was up a mountain near to Cook just yesterday, even though she reckons she’s “a bit long in the tooth”. But the Alpine Club’s motto is “While we can!” We buy a small hand-coloured print, and she signs it. She recommends a walk along the Hooker Valley, if we have time.
Several tracks leave nearby. We choose a short walk to Kea Point, where you can see the moraine from the Mueller glacier. The glacier itself doesn’t extend this far at present. By now Aoraki is completely covered in cloud, though most of the lower mountains are clear. We see no more of him today, though the view at Pukaki car park is still splendid.
Home, with a stop for petrol and a mini food shop.
Very short – probably four to five miles in all.
|This lake doesn’t have the turquoise colour of Tekapo or Pukaki|
|a path with a view|
Harry walked from Lake McGregor to the southern end of Alexandrina. I walked most of the way then back to pick up the car and collect him from the (unsealed gravel) road from the camping area.
|here we had a picnic|
We saw Southern crested grebes doing a courtship dance, plus mallards, coot and black swans. Canada geese as well, of course. These guys are everywhere!
The wind has whipped white horses all over the lake, and the waves hit the shore with a crashing sound as stones are rolled back and forth. It sounds like the sea.
We’re going to take the track to Lake Hawea village. It runs just in from the shore, through pines, and along cliffs. Today we’re pushed along by the wind, but the sun shines and there are flowers everywhere – self set feral flowers?
Lupins, predominantly pink and purple, but with large patches of wild yellow ones too. Californian poppies, with their delicately shaped flowers of rich waxy orange. Wild roses, with their small pink flowers and arching branches. Two different types of yellow flowers, both growing as tall spikes. A blue flower, with pink on it – another spike. Even the birds foot trefoil is bigger and lusher than at home. There’s a rocky slope where deep pink mesembryanthemum are sunbathing. The kete flax is everywhere, and we have pines and eucalyptus too.
Map of the walk in one direction is here.