Te Ara Otakaro Avon River Trail, part of Christchurch’s recovery

It is 10 years since the Christchurch earthquake that devastated
the city centre and cost 185 lives

12.51pm,  22nd February 2021, in remembrance

At 4.35am on 4th September 2010 a magnitude 7.1 earthquake was recorded at  Darfield, 40km west of Christchurch.  No deaths occurred that were directly related to the quake,  there being few houses of unreinforced construction in the area, and at that time of the day few people were out and about.

However, just a few months later at 12.51pm on 22nd February 2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch city.  The earthquake was centred only 6.7km from the city centre and at a depth of only 5km.  The intense shaking resulted in the destruction of many residences and  inner city buildings.  In the ten years since, the city has been in recovery mode.


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Black-billed gull colony in Central Christchurch

Central Christchurch has undergone transformation since the devastation of the 2011 earthquake, with many buildings being demolished and replaced.  However the partial demolition of one building has had unexpected consequences.  The remnants of the Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) building have become home to a colony of 300 rare black-billed gulls (not to be confused with the common black-backed gulls).  Prior to the earthquake the PWC building was the third highest in Christchurch with 21 floors.  Now, the remaining concrete beams  have about 150 nests perched on them.  The area is fenced and this provides a level of safety for nesting.



Found only in New Zealand and mostly in the South Island, the endangered black-billed gull (Maori name: tarapuka) usually lives on braided rivers and streams with gravel beds.  The number of birds has been in rapid decline.  Chick deaths are mostly from predation by introduced mammals such as ferrets, stoats, cats and hedgehogs.                    


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Christchurch’s Riverside Market

Inner city Christchurch is buzzing with the opening of the Riverside Market, on the corner of Cashel Street and Oxford Terrace, near the Bridge of Remembrance and, of course, close to the Avon River.  The $80 million investment is the brainchild of developers Richard Peebles, Kris Inglis and Mike Percasky, who started working on the concept four years ago.  It is an attempt to continue the rejuvenation of the central city after the devastation of the February 2011 earthquake. It is a seven day operation, opening Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm, and Sunday 9am to 4pm.


Covering 3500 square metres, under one roof, there are food outlets, stalls and a food collective, with rooftop bars and restaurants to open soon.  The Market is linked to laneways containing boutique shops, restaurants, cafes and bars.


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Washpen Falls Track

An hour’s drive from Christchurch is the Washpen Falls Track.   It is a private track on a back country working farm in the Malvern Hills, through which the  loop track has been created.  It passes through a stunning  ancient volcanic canyon, now full of native bush and a continuous chorus of birdsong.  After perusing information in the old woolshed, visitors can pick up a guide which gives information about interest points along the track.  Allow one to three hours for the walk, according to how long is spent at each viewpoint, and level of fitness (there are some steep sections).

Through pine forest

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Kennedy’s Bush Track re-opens

A popular Port Hills track has re-opened after a year in which walkers and cyclists were unable to use it.  After the Port Hills fires a year ago, the track was closed while burnt trees were felled due to safety concerns.  This Easter weekend the track was opened again, much to the delight of people who use it as a stand alone walk/ride, but also as access to the Summit Road and other tracks near there.

Previously the track passed through treed areas, which added interest to the scenery and provided some wind shelter.

Some photos of the track prior to the fires –

May 2014

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Ohinetahi House and Garden

Sir Miles Warren’s house and garden in Governor’s Bay are a delight. With harbour views,  the present garden was begun in 1977 by Sir Miles, though there was a garden created on the some site in 1865 by one of New Zealand’s first botanists, T.H . Potts.  Some of the exotic trees and shrubs he planted still stand on the perimeter of the garden.  Sir Miles Warren is a well-known New Zealand architect, now in his 80’s.  He lives in the house and was working in his garden when we visited.  In 2012 he gifted the house and garden to the people of New Zealand through the Ohinetahi Charitable Trust.

Introduction outside the main house before starting the tour


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