Waimairi Walkway

  • 1 hr 45 min loop track
  • Easy

Farm walking, birdlife, picnicking, swimming, and hydrological ponderings.

Australasian coot, the Groynes. • By Matthew.
Key information
Walking time
1 hr 45 min
Loop track
Loop track
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Find it
The Groynes, Christchurch

As the rivers changed courses the plains built up over a wide area. Historically, the Waimakariri has followed a variety of courses to the sea, swishing back and forth like a giant tail. Once, it dumped its alluvium into the Pacific Ocean on the south side of Banks Peninsula. After the Waimakariri River burst its banks in 1868, sending a torrent through Christchurch, work was undertaken to control it with stopbanks along the Southern Branch in what is now the Otukaikino Creek area. Eventually, in 1930, the South Branch was blocked off, and today there is little sign it ever existed. The archaic place names, Mcleans Island, Coutts Island, and Templars Islands, survive mysteriously, denoting land on the south bank that was once isolated mid-stream.

Avenue of poplars, Waimairi Walkway. • By Matthew.

The Groynes picnic area on Johns Road takes its name from the large concrete structures that were first introduced to control the river's flow. A few are still visible next to the pretty, spring-fed Otukaikino Creek. The pleasant picnic area is popular, with swimming in the creek, and opportunities to roam and explore the wildlife lakes. Ducks, geese, and swans are found in numbers around the creek, with Australasian coots in the wildlife lakes. The walkway itself begins at the Groynes and makes a circuit through farmland that was once riverbed. Beyond the Groynes, the walkway is a little dull, and time spent on the walkway may be better spent exploring the Groynes. The walk is described here as an anti-clockwise circuit, although it can be walked either way.

Part of this walkway crosses private farmland. Do not disturb stock.


The Groynes picnic area is located off Johns Road in the Christchurch suburb of Belfast. The Rangiora bus runs from the Christchurch Square through Belfast along the Main North Road. From the bus, another entrance to the walkway at the end of Darroch Street (near the northern end of Belfast) is probably the most convenient.

The Groynes – Pumphouse via the Loop Track

From the bridge and swimming area at the Groynes (toilets, gas barbecues, childrens' playground, dog park) follow either side of the creek downstream beneath the trees. Soon the creek is diverted over a (bridged) weir on the true left bank, although a perfectly fine channel continues. Follow this past a roundabout at the entrance to the Groynes and across the road to a canoe slalom course. An old pumphouse at the edge of the farmland provides water for irrigation. From here, the River Track bends off to the left, while the Farm Track continues past the building.

Pumphouse – Darroch Street via the River Track

Following old irrigation ditches over prosaic and weedy farmland, the track soon crosses a stile to a field at the end of Darroch Street. A small driveway to the right leads out to the road.

Darroch Street – Pumphouse via the River Track

Over the small field, a stile leads north, and the walk follows several irrigation ditches and farm tracks. A striking avenue of poplars is encountered after 10 min, and the track leads between the double row. Beyond here, a stile leads to a grassy track by the gorse-bound, unkempt lower reaches of the Otukaikino Creek. As the grounds of the Belfast Pony Club are passed, the walk becomes more pleasant, and the creek prettier. The track soon leaves the creek and bends leftward back to the pumphouse.

Walking times

  • The Groynes – Pumphouse via the Loop Track: 10 minutes
  • Pumphouse – Darroch Street via the River Track: 30 minutes
  • Darroch Street – Pumphouse via the River Track: 45 minutes
ID 243

About this track

Added 1 June 2001 by MatthewMatthew. 1 revision 10 December 2016 by MatthewMatthew.
160 views in the past year (13 per month).