According to Christchuch’s travel website I have already been to all of the best beaches in and around the area!
Less than a month here, and I’m stoked to announce my traveling has included Corsair Bay, Sumner & Scarborough, Taylor’s Mistake, New Brighton Beach, Akaroa Banks Peninsula, Waikuku and Woodend Beach. So here’s an outsider’s take of each:
1. TAYLOR’S MISTAKE
A hidden gem. From Sumner, on a windy and narrow road going up, and then returning to sea level, it takes about 5 minutes by car. Before I reached the beach, I found a trail going up at the last big hill before the descent. There was plenty of parking on the side of the road at 11 am and to add dramatic effect, I figured I should trudge up as high as I could go to see the view before even scoping out the beach. Up I went, making a turn to a path less traveled, which was for sheep. I slipped on the narrow, grassy path and was thankful not to land in sheep poop. I turned around and found a heritage path to the beach from that same space. I ran down 193 stairs (it was labeled at the end). Following was a bridge and winding path along gardens and tiny beach houses, stone stairs and sandy ones with shells decorating each one.
Before jumping right into where I saw humans, I carefully inspected each path way and found myself near giant black and purple rocks with the waves crashing against them. There were 5 houses along this part; 1 look damaged by a past earthquake, two more looked entirely abandoned, in the distance I saw a man romping around in tiny shorts, enjoying his private beach. I decided that was exactly where I would want to live if New Zealand were my home. He had it made! You can see the waves roll in from the great and bright blue ocean before they actually build up and then crash. Watching waves from above adds a whole new depth for my relationship with the ocean. Oh how I’d love to fly over and see waves in the middle of this clear water.
Traveling to the other side of Taylor’s Mistake was enjoyable; through walls of succulents and bright flowers, down more stairs, I found myself on an almost empty beach. In the United States the best time for sun and warmth is 9am to about 2 but people didn’t start to show up until after lunch. I had the beach to myself for hours, watching just a few surfers try to catch some waves. It was completely quiet and gave me ample time for book reading.
At a distance there was a mother and her family. I say this because she looked on as her son and his father played the morning away in the sand and in the waves. Each time I glanced over, she was smiling up at the sun with her eyes closed. Her husband waved and smiled, returning to the towel very few times whereas the son didn’t leave the fun once. Nostalgia sets in as I remember my days as a literal fish in the water. As for me, the water was quite cold so I decided to hike through Godley Head National Reserve.
That hike is why I call Taylor’s Mistake my favorite beach of them all. Beginning from the few homes lined along the beach, slowly ascending up to countless great views of the caves and rocks below. Hundreds of people paths that were so quaint you’d think little gnomes ran through the hills. Being able to choose a new direction every few steps was so enticing
making me feel like no one ever took the specific route I went. On such a beautiful day, I was shocked that I still saw very few people during the trot around the shores – I loved it though! I was so impressed with the colors, plants, cave dwellings, I am sure this if this wasn’t filmed in the Lord of the Rings it should have. I ascended up a winding bike path to summit the top of this hill and as I did the wind blew the high grass. It was easy to tell which way the wind enjoyed going that day and lucky for me it was a great cool down after a a great bit of exploring.
After Taylor’s Mistake I had to find every hiking path I could and utilize it. The days are so long in Christchurch and I happily exhaust myself every chance I get. This day was certainly no exception.
Next up, Flower Track through Scarborough to reach the town of Sumner and the beaches along the entire little town. As if my feet weren’t hurting already from all the inclines and declines, I ran down switchback after switchback through thick plants and flowers covering the top of the path so much at times I had to duck. Each point on the switchback for the most part lead to an entrance to a home. What a steep hillside to live upon. I imagine those people have a profound love for nature and the ocean and I wished to meet one of them as I was walking by. Unfortunately, no such chance but I really enjoyed that hike as well.
had the same amount of people at Taylor’s Mistake in the mid morning- few, and more than Taylor’s Mistake in the afternoon. My observations see Sumner and Scarborough more for families as there are playsets and a little water park, close to food and ice cream, still plenty of sea sports to watch all the while. Taylor’s Mistake was just a quick trip away but there were no stores in short walking distance from the shore; many more surfers dwelled at this tiny beach. Heaps of runners whizzed through it in no time, passing me quickly as I strolled along. The entire area though, had a relaxed vibe to it, and the town was already buzzing by the time I headed home around 4:30, traffic time in Christchurch.
Akaroa’s natural beauty leads to many planned adventure tours, cruise ship excursions, etc etc entails way too many tourists for me, but I can easily see why. The entire drive there was stunning and winding all through grassy hills and steep cliff edges. It took me ages just to get there because I had to continuously stop and check out the views and slow down for double decker tour busses passing these sharp turns as well. A longboarder’s dream, you’ll drive up and down on repeat to get to the actual Wharf of Akaroa.
I pushed around on my own longboard past the huge crowds walking on the sidewalk as I admired the sites around me. Green grass, blue skies, bright blue water, live music from a nice fellow near the main eateries. I sang Sweet Caroline along with him as I ran through a patch of seagulls being fed heaps of food by tourists. I apologized to the tourists taking photos with the feeding seagulls as their focal point – of all the things to take a photo near! Might as well go to a zoo I supposed. No matter, I was ready to escape deep into the woods and this was made easy with the Garden of Tane.
One really awesome aspect of a dense forest with song birds all over is that you will feel like you are deep in a jungle when you are really less than a mile from civilization. I took advantage of that notion as I covered every single footpath probably twice.
The birds have to be the most melodic in all of the world! I immediately deemed myself a part-time bird watcher. So many different kinds to appreciate in tangent with the sounds of the insects and swishing leaves.
Too many tourists can kill a place for someone like me but I was extremely thankful to find the Garden of Tane. The giant tree trunk to perch upon as I viewed the Lighthouse and the view to go along with it offset the fact that the gift shop I entered for souvenirs was literally shoulder to shoulder.There was also the Roman Catholic and Dissenters Cemeteries off Onuku Rd. There were tree plantings commemorating Gallipoli and the 175th anniversary of the French and German settlers arriving in Akaroa in 1840 on the Comte de Paris.
5. WAIKUKU BEACH
Waikuku Beach tapped into my self proclaimed birdwatcher and made her very happy. The short walk from the beginning to the shore entailed wetlands to one side. Naturally, I chose that direction and was excited to see 3 birds I had never seen before! One group looked like a swan or a flamingo with the size in mind and the very long gray necks. There were a photographer clearly in his element, posted up as close to them as he could get. I also noticed thousands of clam shells washed ashore and wonder if some of the birds eat the organisms out of the shell or, ? Either way, the beach had great 360 degree views of mountains on almost every side of my vision with the exception of the open sea. There were heaps of beautiful shells to collect but I limited myself to keeping one and made some shell art in the sand before heading to Woodend Beach.
6. WOODEND BEACH
Woodend Beach was blissful and empty when I arrived. The only humans I saw the entire time were hundreds of yards away from me and it was a two dots (people) with their large blob (dog) playing fetch I assume because he was running around a lot. I chose a windy and cloudy day but enjoyed the sounds of the ocean enabling me to read a good book and soak up the brown sand instead of the UV rays.
7. NEW BRIGHTON BEACH
New Brighton Beach impressed me, just like every other beach. Coming from the east side of the U.S. the blue waters will never go unmentioned or unnoticed. I parked at the pier and was happy to find a beautiful library connecting the beach to the pier. There were loads of fishermen out and I was fortunate to see one person catch a fish with little excitement. Lucky for him, I was excited enough for the both of us. The view from the end of the pier was my favorite because you could look toward the hillside and see so many homes. It reminded me of something in a travel magazine for sure, with that view, the fishermen and all of the surfers below.
New Brighton was effected by earthquakes and the town is still recovering from that. I was able to see this in action as well as in art. Every weekend New Brighton has a small market but I would venture to say festival. Only because the fake grass laid down in the middle of the sidewalk and giant pillows placed under a shady tent allowed for premium music appreciation. I relaxed and listened to covers from Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and America. Once the music stopped, I walked and found the rest of the town to be filled with street art. Colors from different artists on every wall without advertisements or business names. I think I’ll have to go back to this beach weekly!
8. CORSAIR BAY
Corsair Bay was the first beach I visited in New Zealand and on Waitangi Day! Boy, it ruined me! I already wrote about it once I am glad not all beaches have such beautiful shells like Corsair because I would never stop looking down near my feet. I’d have a sore neck every time I visited a beach. Corsair has no sand, but instead shells. Perfect, colorful shells. The water is clear and the people are plenty. It takes going up by car and walking down by foot to get to the waters. It’s basically a cliff, drop off with sand, little waves, and shallow waters perfect for children and families. There is tramping all around the forest surrounding the bay and it sounds like a rainforest when you get far enough away from the water and close enough to the nature in the trees.
I couldn’t believe that turning my body one way would lead to such different sounds than turning my body another. Facing the water vs facing the trees is a pretty near experience I recommend to take the time to appreciate.
I have to thank the Christchurch website for recommending these specific beaches for I would not have purposely sought out Taylor’s Mistake. If it weren’t for finding the link attached, I wouldn’t have had some of favorite experiences in New Zealand so far.
Christchurch has literally SO much to offer and I am so excited to spend the rest of summer here trying to experience as much of it as I can, from live music to the Noodle Fest to movies in the park – I am sure this will be one of the best summers yet! (It’s winter in the U.S.)
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