Free walking event exploring Ashley Rakahuri Regional Park and estuary

The public can explore and learn about one of the region's most unique ecological hotspots this weekend as part of the The Walking Festival 2021.

On April 17 between 10am – 2pm, the Ashley Rakahuri Regional Park and estuary will provide the location for this exciting event. 

Our Parks and Forests team have designed a 6km loop track for the event, where you can wander at your own pace alongside the Ashley River/Rakahuri, through the estuary and dunes and out to Waikuku Beach.

Park rangers to share knowledge about the area

Parks and Forests team leader James Page said participants will have the opportunity to speak with park rangers throughout the walk.

“The park rangers are extremely passionate and knowledgeable about this area, which provides a habitat for a wide-range of rare birds and spawning inanga/whitebait.

“This is going to be a wonderful day for anyone to come explore, learn and connect. It’s also a great chance to pack a picnic to enjoy along the way or visit the Waikuku playground,” said Page.

Diverse bird species in the Ashley Rakahuri estuary

Royal spoonbill at estuary

The Ashley River/Rakahuri and estuary is home to a diverse number of native and migratory species, like the kōtuku-ngutupapa/royal spoonbill.

The Ashley Rakahuri estuary is regarded as one of the most important sites for birds on the east coast because of the diverse species that make it their home. This unique habitat has a varied landscape of delta, estuarine mudflats, and saline swamplands behind a sand-dune barrier.

As the freshwater of the Ashley River/Rakahuri meets the saltwater of the estuary, the diversity of species increases with the flora and fauna of the river meeting that of the coastal ecosystem.

Colonies of pārekareka/spotted shag and tara/white-fronted tern live there, joining ngutu parore/wrybill, tūturiwhatu/banded dotterel, poaka/pied stilt, tarāpuka/black-billed gull and tara pirohe/black-fronted tern.

The kōtuku-ngutupapa/royal spoonbill, and kōtuku/white heron and matuku moana/white-faced heron can often be seen fishing the shallows.

Migratory birds can also be seen on occasion, including grey-tailed tattler, whimbrel, eastern curlew, bar-tailed godwit, arctic skua and red knot, among others.

The upstream edge of the estuary is also an important spawning ground for inanga/whitebait, which are the most common and smallest of the native fish species whose juvenile are known as whitebait.

Ashley Rakahuri estuary

The Ashley Rakahuri Regional Park and estuary is a special place in our region.

The Walking Festival 2021

The Walking Festival 2021 provides a chance for Cantabrians to explore amazing spaces in Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakiriri. This year there are more than 50 walks for all ages and fitness abilities across the region.

The three key themes for this year’s festival are Explore/Hōpara, Learn/Ako and Connect/Hono.

The walks will focus on opportunities to explore new places and spaces, learn about our local history or nature and connect with friends and whānau or other walkers and guides as you step out during the two weeks of the festival. 

Event information