Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Weekends in May

Saturday 12 May
We plan to do the Mount Cass Walkway but find it’s closed for some reason so we end up driving quite a long way north towards Port Robinson. It’s not easy to find and once there, even more difficult to find a way down to it, but we can see a couple of surfers in the water below so we know it must be possible. There have been a lot of land slippages around here and the usual route no longer exists, but we soon find the right track and descend steeply to the stony beach with bellbirds singing and fantails fluttering around us.

Port Robinson
There’s the remains of an old wharf here, it was obviously quite a large port at one time but now there’s nothing left but the wharf timbers sticking out of the water’s edge. How those guys got their surf boards down here I can’t imagine as it’s quite a scramble. We wander off down the beach but are forced to stop because there are a lot of seals dozing on the rocks and we don’t want to disturb them. Mike finds the sign for the coastal path and scrambles up there but there have been too many slippages and the path is gone so we decide to move on to Gore Bay.
Seal amongst the seaweed and driftwood
Cathedral Rocks above Gore Bay
On the way we stop at Cathedral Rocks, some interesting eroded limestone cliffs and then on down to Gore Bay which is beautiful and still shrouded in mist. After lunch we walk up a gully hoping to reach the foot of Cathedral Cliffs but instead it leads us to a lookout over Gore Bay. A beautiful warm day though the mist never quite clears.
Mist over Gore Bay
Saturday 25 May
A lovely sunny w/e ahead of us and we plan a big walk tomorrow and just a quick jaunt to the Port Hills today. There’s a summit road around the volcanic rim separating Christchurch and Lyttleton and we drive up through the suburbs of Cashmere to get there. At The top we turn right along the crest with terrific views across to the snow topped Southern Alps and occasionally down the other side to Lyttleton Harbour. There are also a number of little Reserves along the road which are new to us so we stop at a couple.
Kennedy's Reserve on the Port Hills looking northwest across the Canterbury plains to the snow capped Southern alps
The first is Kennedys Reserve which takes us down a bit on the Christchurch side of the hills and along to the Sign of the Bellbird. Well named there’s beautiful clear bellbird song along the way. The refuge is an open affair which certainly wouldn’t keep the wind out if you had to shelter overnight.

View from the Summit Road across to Lyttleton Harbour opening onto the Pacific
Back to the car and we drive onto Gibraltar Rock and park the car. We walk up to the rock in the company of a family with three small kids but the trail peters out and we’re left forging a path through the undergrowth to get to the foot of the rock itself.  Having determined to climb it and in the presence of the young family we certainly can’t dip out of the venture, but it takes quite a lot of effort to get me up that rock. Definitely a climb not a scramble but eventually we get there with the family close behind. Dad had the littlest on his back and quite how they managed without losing any of the kids over the edge I’m not sure. It’s certainly not something I’d have attempted with 3 little ones, but then these kiwis are tough and start them young. Getting back down again was easier, I just tended to lie down on the near vertical rock and slide.

Mike and me (looking daft) on the top of Gibraltar Rock, Port Hills
Sunday 26 May
We set off at about 8am and drive south west down to the Banks Peninsular, stopping at Little River for breakfast then drive up and over the hills to Pigeon Bay. We park by an old jetty and set off along the edge of the bay which has steep hills either side rather like a fjord. The walk crosses meadows and woodland initially then takes you onto a farm track leading towards the open end of the bay.
Old jetty on Pigeon Bay
There are a lot of cows to squeeze past as they block the foot path. Kiwis seem to graze their cattle as well as their sheep on very steep hillsides over here , unlike the UK. Eventually we’re guided off the farm track and onto open tussock land towards the cliffs where there are large signs warning you against falling over the edge. It’s obvious the land is eroding pretty swiftly here and the cliff edge path is moving further away from the encroaching edge.
Wakaroa Point
This is Wakaroa Point, the end of our walk. The cliffs are impressively high and there are shag colonies dotted around. We eventually retrace our steps and stop in a more sheltered spot for lunch, then make our way back, picking mushrooms along the way. Back at the jetty we bathe our hot feet in the cold water of Pigeon Bay.

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