Christchurch sea kayaking
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.
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.
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.
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.