fancy some time on the river?

GO boating in New Zealand?

In 1850, swamp covered Christchurch, and settlers had to traverse bog to get home after shopping in the market.

Those early settlers must have been sorely disillusioned when they first saw the soggy land of their dreams,

Between 1000 and 1500, the indigenous Maori (who had arrived here from the Pacific) had a settlement here, called Puari. It stretched east from the Otakaro River, and was home for around 800 Waitaha people who gathered eels, whitebait, native trout, ducks, and flounder here.

The river was renamed the Avvon – after a Scottish river – then this too was changed to Avon, and the first bridge to span the river was a cart bridge in 1852. Ten years later the first public lamp was lit at the same market street bridge but kerosene was considered too expensive and the town lighting project was halted for two years.

A post and chain fence (some portions are still in use) was built along in the 1860s to save ‘innocent children and tipsy men alike’ from drowning, as some 30 people had drowned in what now seems an extremely placid river

Every weekend we Cantabrians (we who live in Canterbury, New Zealand) have holidays here in our own city. One of our time honoured ways of indulging in the warmer months here is boating on the Avon.

The centre of this fun is of course The Antigua Boat Sheds. Established in 1882 many generations of Christchurch people have spent time messing around in boats hired from them and I too learnt to row in the gentle waters of our river.

The boat-shed was built by a couple of boat builders and is one of Christchurch’s oldest buildings. Open all year, and with a cafe full of home-cooked food attached, it makes a great setting for all sorts of events – from weddings and cocktail parties to children’s parties- as well as a family fun day in the park.

Canoes and paddle boats are available for hire and you can also be punted upstream, through the beauty of the botanical gardens, – sipping champagne or tucking into a hamper of food is optional. You can also punt further downstream- leaving from the Kate Sheppard suffrage statue beside the Worcester Boulevard bridge down to the Manchester St area: restful and different ways to see our city.

The current owners of the Antigua Boat Sheds have enjoyed running this business since 1987. “It’s a life-style thing” I was told “our family loves not being confined to an office space”

The fame of the boat sheds have travelled wide and far and some tourists have even come directly to the boat sheds from the airport I’m told

So become a tourist in your own city, or welcome to our city, and go boating on our Avon River.

Trout fishing on a golf course. Clearwater, Christchurch, New Zealand

Although I was bought up fishing by a dad who loved the outdoors and ensured my children learnt the skill of putting fresh fish on the table, once they left home, I no longer went fishing.

However, a chance meeting with Jonathan Pasley, a professional fly fishing teacher & fishing guide, soon had him introducing me to fly fishing – a form of fishing I‘d never done. Clearwater is just 15 minutes drive from Christchurch city (7 minutes from the airport) and it was not long before Jonathan had a 24-hour fly-fishing permit, and with a rod in my hand, learning, then practising with no fly and hook.  Under his instruction it was not long I was ready for the real thing. And less than an hour later, under the gaze of a pair of spur winged plovers I had my very first trout on the line.

I didn’t want to eat this fish that fought being bought to shore and, as he removes the hook, he tells me, “They need to be handled with care as they have a very soft mouth.” Lying on the side of the little lake the stream has formed, he holds it in the water and continues, “Trout are not like sea fish which can be just thrown back in: holding it like this allows its gills to start working well again.’ Within a minute he released it and my first trout swims away – much to the horror of my sister who fishes for trout every season in Tasmania.

Jonathan, who is a member of the NZ Professional Fishing Guides Association, began his fishing skills, as a six-year old, while staying in a tin shed on the Taieri Plains, with his grandfather. He created this job for himself some 7 or 8 years ago. A perfect way of combining his skills and passion with a career, and an example of the adage – do what you love to do and soon you will be paid to do what you love to do.

Clearwater is is set within 465 acres and has been said to be ‘New Zealand’s premier lifestyle resort’ has something for everyone and is the home of the HSBC NZ PGA Championship – and all are able to play the 18-hole championship golf course,.

The public can also enjoy the driving range, practice putting greens, tennis courts, extensive walking trails, on-site fly fishing, and popular Lakes Cafe which serves uncomplicated food.

Also, nine kilometres of walking tracks span the perimeter of Clearwater’s championship golf course, as well as ecological heritage sites such as The Groynes Recreation Reserve and adjoining farmland alongside aquifer-fed lakes and the Otukaikino Stream, with expansive views of the Southern Alps beyond.

Note: Whether fishing independently or with a guide, you must have a licence to fish for trout, salmon and coarse fish in New Zealand and carry it with you when fishing.

A Fish & Game licence covers all of New Zealand except the Taupo fishery area (and an additional back-country licence is required for a few specified rivers).

A licence permits you to fish according to the current regulations for the region. The regional regulations define where, when and how you can fish specific waters. They also specify the maximum number of fish you can take and the minimum size of fish. For details, see the sportsfishing regulations.web heathers fish