In the footsteps of Scott on Quail Island
With many tracks in the Port Hills closed since the earthquakes, residents of Christchurch have had to look further afield for their walking fix. For my wife and I this has involved working our way farther around the Banks Peninsula. On those walks we have often looked across to, or down on, Quail Island in Lyttleton Harbour and wondered if it was worth a visit.
Then an opportunity arose. As part of IceFest, a month-long celebration of Christchurch’s position as Gateway to the Antarctic, half-price ferry tickets were on offer due to Quail Island’s Antarctic connections. Captain Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton used the island for quarantining and training ponies and dogs before their Antarctic expeditions in the early part of the 20th Century. Reason enough to visit so off we drove to Lyttleton Harbour.
The ferry was so crowded that they laid on an extra one and five minutes later we landed on the island.
The Maoris called the island Otamahua, which means ‘place to gather sea-bird eggs’. The first European to land on the island was Captain Mein Smith, in 1842, and after flushing a number of quail from the bush he named the island after them. The island was eventually acquired by the Crown from the Ngai Tahu in 1950. It subsequently changed hands several times until being transferred to DOC in 1987.
The Quail Island Walkway starts from the wharf and offers opportunities for short or long walks. A map is provided by the ferry company.
We opted for the circumference walk which can take up to two hours depending
Above: Starting off on the circumference walk.