Christchurch sea kayak­ing

Sunday Star-Times - - ESCAPE | WORLD FAMOUS IN NZ - Pamela Wade

There are cer­tainly kayaks on this trip along the Avon River but not much sea, and though there are a cou­ple of lit­tle rapids, there are def­i­nitely no waves.

What there are plenty of, how­ever, are ducks, jokes, opin­ion, in­for­ma­tion, dif­fer­ent views (phys­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal) of the Gar­den City, and fun.

Owner-op­er­a­tor Kata­rina Te Mai­haroa of­fers a choice of three tours from two places in the city cen­tre, along the river through sub­urbs and the red zone to­wards the es­tu­ary where the Avon meets the ocean.

Her dou­ble kayaks are sta­ble and easy to get in and out of, mak­ing for a re­lax­ing, lowex­er­tion glide along the river. There are eye-level en­coun­ters with ducks, geese and swans, as well as art, his­tory and cul­tural ref­er­ences along the route.

Why go?

How­ever many times you’ve been to Christchurch, even if you’ve had a punt through the Botanic Gar­dens, you won’t have seen this side of the city.

KT is a 68th gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of the re­gion’s Waitaha tribe, and she de­liv­ers a wel­com­ing wa­iata as we start our Te Toru Nui tour.

The Big Three of that ti­tle are the Botanic Gar­dens, the city and the red zone. Be­gin­ning near Christ’s Col­lege, the first sec­tion of the three-hour trip is all flowers, man­i­cured lawns and mag­nif­i­cent old trees.

Then, pass­ing the Earth­quake Me­mo­rial, with posies bright against the white stone, it’s into the city with its echo­ing bridges, art­work, eels , ru­ins and sad sto­ries.

A cof­fee stop at the Mar­garet Mahy Play­ground sets ev­ery­one up for the quiet wind­ing glide through the re­gen­er­at­ing red zone, hear­ing heart­en­ing ac­counts of river care, con­ser­va­tion and fu­ture plans.

We pass white­baiters and dart­ing duck­lings float­ing un­der trail­ing wil­lows, and a blue sky framed by a clas­sic Can­ter­bury nor’west arch.

All too soon, Por­ritt Park looms into view at Kerr’s Reach, and it’s the end of our trip. It’s been easy, full of in­ter­est and fun.

In­sider tip

Be sure to ask KT to tell you her amaz­ing de­tec­tive story about the river­side fly-dumped cam­era, the SD card and Face­book. It has a happy end­ing.

On the way/nearby

Af­ter the kayak, you’re re­turned to your start­ing point so on the Big Three you end up right next to the Gar­dens, and just along the road from Can­ter­bury Mu­seum and the Arts Cen­tre.

How much?

The Big Three and City to Es­tu­ary are $95 a per­son; City to Sea is $120. The groups are small, usu­ally a max­i­mum of four plus KT, and the lower age limit is 15 (ne­go­tiable).

Best time to go

Sunshine is al­ways good. KT makes sure that all tours take place on an out­go­ing tide, so na­ture will do some of the work for you. christchurch­seakayak­ing.com.

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