Work starts on Christchurch red zone walk-run-bike trail
Work building a riverside walking, running and cycling trail through the Christchurch red zone has begun.
The 12-kilometre Avon Trail will run from the central city to New Brighton and open in stages, starting in spring this year.
The trail will be fully open by early next year. It is intended as a transitional use for the land, lasting for at least two years or until more permanent uses are found.
Umbrella group the Avon-Otakaro Network is leading the project and community volunteers will help prepare some legs of the trail.
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The project is being done to coincide with Christchurch City Council contractors upgrading temporary riverside stopbanks. The tops of the stopbanks are being smoothed then spread with a fine gravel surface to create the trail.
Stage one has started at Avonside Drive by the western end of Retreat Rd and will go through to the Gayhurst Rd bridge. From there, work will move downstream towards the New Brighton bridge.
Avon-Otakaro Network co-chairman Evan Smith said the trail would give easy access to the lower Avon and red zone, and people were already "beginning to see the true extent and potential of the river corridor".
"The more we can offer as many folk as possible the opportunity to explore this, the better."
Council-Crown agency Regenerate Christchurch is helping co-ordinate the work, and the Ministry of Social Development has provided some funding.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the trail would showcase the possibilities of a route from the central city to the sea.
Both traditional and long-term ideas are being sought now for the 600 riverside hectares of land which form the city to sea riverside corridor. The land includes re-zoned former housing areas, nine council parks and reserves, and the Avonside Girls' High School site.
More than 80 proposals have already been put forward. They include venues for rowing, surfing and other watersports, a fenced eco-sanctuary for native trees and wildlife, a heritage orchard and a Christchurch version of Britain's Eden Project eco-tourist attraction.
After the public consultation stage, Regenerate Christchurch will release its Otakaro Avon River Corridor Plan setting out a mixture of uses for the land.
The project is being called the largest regeneration opportunity in New Zealand's history.