Our last day in Christchurch with again a drizzly day which has to be good for the fires which are still burning and could flare up with weather expected to warm up Monday. Being a Saturday Parkrun was the order of the day. Lil and I ran the 2km from our accommodation to the start in Hagley park where we met James. It is a pretty flat figure of 8 course. There were around 200 people. James blitzed with a fast sub 20 time. Well organised event but no photos!
I had to return our rental vehicle and ran the 6.5 km back from there in the cool conditions. James picked us up and we had lunch at his new place. Later the rain held off, though not the most, so we headed out to Taylor’s Mistake for a ride at Godley head. The first part of the ride was on a walking trail that at times was rather steep and we had to carry our bikes on the first part. This trail went past some military installations and gun emplacements originally there to defend the entrance to Littleton harbour. We the traversed on the Godley Head Connector to the start of the Anaconda trail. We descended on the Anaconda trail which as its name suggests is a twisty descent which I managed most of the way before breaking my shoes(again ).
Drove toward the mountains to Oxford,and after a good quality coffee in the small town, headed to Wooded Gully campsite. From there we hike to the top of Mt Thomas via the Summit track. Going up the grade averaged close to 20% and was partly through pine plantation and part native forest. The view from the top was stunning with views to the
East over Christchurch to the ocean and to West over the Western Alps. The smoke from the recent fires in Port Hills were clearly visible. We hiked down via the Wooded gully track through native beech forest and fresh flowing streams. Link to Strava file of hike ->On the way back we took the alternative route over the Waimakiri river. The smoke from the fires could be seen constantly on the way back to Christchurch.
We had good news of James house settling so went to help him move stuff in. The fires were only a matter of a kilometre or so from James house. Fortunately they were in a direction away from there. They burnt through the Adventure park and pretty much over the route we had taken on our mountain bikes three days earlier. A change in the weather is on the way and should help in controlling the fires.
We had to check out of our Riccarton accommodation . We met the couple checking in as they had arrived early from Melbourne. They were here for a wedding. The guy’s family had sold their holiday house in Inverloch quite a few years ago. As he was a keen fisherman there was much discussion of the recent changes in Anderson Inlet.
Our hosts looked after our bags for the day and took Jan’s advice and drove up to Hanmer Springs . Our choice of cafe in Amberly was unfortunately a poor one ! At Hanmer Springs I decided to take in the Mountain Bike tracks in the forest while Lil went for a walk. The tracks were pretty much a hoot till I chose one that little to difficult! Track-> On the way back we stopped again at Amberly but this time managed to choose a small Thai restaurant where the food was great.
We picked up our bags from our previous hosts and checked in to our next accommodation , a room in a modern flat owned by a young couple in the St Albans area.
That evening we walked to the Ice Rink to watch James play Ice Hockey. Whilst his team was thrashed James was rather Gretzkyish in his performance.
After acquiring a rental vehicle we took Jan’s advice and drove out to Akoroa. We took up her suggestions and stopped at the Little River cafe for lunch. Following this we drove to Le Bon’s bay, which was a small settlement in a sheltered bay where Jan and Marcus also have a property. We then proceeded on to Akoroa which is a pretty natural harbour that was at one point settled by the French,; until the British sent a force from New South Wales. There were 2 large cruisliners anchored in the bay. We walked around the monuments and the cemeteries and the Garden of Tane(French Botanist) . The trails were very steep in parts. There was Anglican cemetery and a Roman Catholic / Dissenters cemetery ! After our walk we had fish and chips on the waterfront, I think the best I’ve ever had, the fish being the local Blue Cod.
On our way back to Christchurch we drove past what was, by Australian standards, a relatively small fire that was starting up in the Port Hills. There were a number of cars stopped on roadside who appeared to be there watching. Overnight this would join up with another fire and over the next three days burn through an area 12 times the size of Hagley park. The fire burnt through the Adventure Park and the trails James and I had ridden the day before. It claimed 11 houses and the life of one of the helicopter pilots fighting the fire.