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Avon - Source to Surf, Canterbury

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Avon - Source to SurfBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Tony Sharpe

Info Info
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Trail Information







Urban fringe

Point to Point (one way)

Totally/mostly flat

Native bush

Beginner - Intermediate

5:00 (Slow)
3:30 (Moderate)
2:30 (Fast)



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This really is a journey across a network or urban and parkland trails, and provides a great tour of Christchurch City and its heritage.

The true source of the Avon is actually a spring in someones back yard a couple of blocks up from Corfe Reserve, but it doesn't truly flow until downstream from the listed startpoint. Initially it dives in and out of private/ public areas, so unless you want wet feet you'll be following the 360 Christchurch Trail markers through to the University and then on to Mona Vale. Some really nice sections of riverside trail kick in early on through Ilam House and just before the Uni. You will need a printout of the map to find your way initially.

After the Uni there is a short street section to Riccarton Bush, again following the 360 Trail markers. Again after Riccarton House there's a short workaround where the river diverts to peoples back yards. Either take the cycleway or follow the mapped route to hook onto Mona Vale gates off Fendalton Rd - you'll cross a couple of bridges where the Avon and its various tributaries come together here and make the river what it is for its CBD section.

Hitting Hagley Park you are on trails the whole way through around Little North and North Hagley, with the big loop around the amazing Botanic Gardens. Past the hospital cross the bridge at the Boatsheds and take in the new trails past the Earthquake Memorial and through the CBD proper. Since the quakes heaps of work has gone on to rejuvenate and upgrade the whole river and trail experience. As the rebuild of the city continues there will be the odd diversion but just keep following the river from here all the way through.

Past Margaret Mahy playground you'll reach the Avon Loop and start experiencing the ravages of the earthquakes. Further on to the "redzone" whose suburbs have been removed through Dallington, Avonside and then New Brighton. The run now is a mix of riverside urban trail, abandoned roads and stopbank trails all the way through New Brighton and on to the Avon/Heathcote estuary where the river completes its journey.

Just to round matters out, nip across from the estuary a couple of blocks away to the beach and shake out with a couple of kms of surf and sand to the pier and reflect on nailing the entire course of the Avon River, and all its history and nature. There's a lot to reflect on at the end of this run!

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Features of interest

Follow the Otakaro/Avon River from its source, west to east almost completely across Christchurch through the center of town and out to the estuary and a final wind down up the surf to New Brighton Pier.

This is a true urban trail adventure with so much history, heritage, natural surrounds and earthquake related impacts. A journey for the feet, body, mind, and soul.

Make Up of Run

Easy Single Track: 70%

Sealed Road: 30%

Route Data


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Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    Corfe Reserve, Avonhead - look for the pipe at the western end of this reserve which is the first publically available spot to follow the source of the Avon / Otakaro River from.

    Get dropped off or leave your transportation at the start. Finish at New Brighton pier - buses or privately arranged pickup.

    10 km

    16 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Take the map, as especially early on there are a few sections where you need to work around private properties and find the river a few blocks away.

    Perfect throughout.

    Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    Lots of options along the way for water.

    Take something warm if that pesky eastery is blowing, or if its mid winter!

    As always be mindful crossing roads.

  • Post run indulgence

    Salt on the Pier
    New Brighton Pier

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    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


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