The formal opening next week of Te Ara Ihutai Christchurch Coastal Pathway will be welcomed by many, including Huntsbury Hill resident Michael Franklin.
The keen cyclist and runner transitioned to a wheelchair in 2019 following nerve damage from radiation treatment.
He uses the Coastal Pathway 2-3 times a week. Once it’s completed, the 71-year-old will be able to complete a return journey of around 13 kilometres from the Ferrymead Bridge to Scarborough, and if he adds in Charlesworth Reserve, almost 20 kilometres return.
The finishing touches are currently being put on the final section of pathway passing through Moncks Bay. Fully complete, it will cover 6.5 kilometres and provide smooth, off-road access to the coastline.
“I like the Coastal Pathway because you can go a long way – plus the beautiful scenery, the birds and meeting other people. The only thing that stops me (from coming) is rain because it gets a bit slippery,” Michael says.
“It’s nice to have a variety of places to go but there aren’t that many that are flat and have good parking and amazing scenery,” says his wife, Sarah Dawson.
“Michael was a cyclist, tramper and runner before, so he likes going fast, likes long distances and being out in nature and fresh air. Coming out here is important; it improves his mental wellbeing enormously.”
“This sort of thing opens up the world – it’s absolutely magic,” Michael says.
Canterbury Skating Academy owner Alana Caunter is excited to use the pathway for training.
Originally from Nelson, the 28-year-old started skating at the age of seven and apart from a five-year break she’s been on skates ever since.
There’s no dedicated rink in Christchurch however, so for the past 18 months since starting the academy she’s been hiring community and school halls to teach classes, events and workshops.
“What I like about the Coastal Pathway is that I can go a very long way without having to stop, cross the road or negotiate traffic. It’s flat and there’s not too many obstacles, there’s loos and the parking is accessible.”
She’s trialled a Thursday night session from the Mt Pleasant Yacht Club to the Redcliffs shops and back, which is five kilometres return.
“I like that there’s an end point - you can have a destination and build in an activity like stopping for an ice-cream or a wine.”
She says the Coastal Pathway offers opportunities to use skating as a form of fitness in a community way. “You can pop a post up on Facebook to say you’re going out if anybody wants to join in. Skating can be a sport, can be competitive or can be social. It’s a really inclusive and creative outlet for people.”
The Pathway is a joint project between Christchurch City Council and the Christchurch Coastal Pathway Group, with additional funding from the Government’s shovel ready projects fund.
The final section of pathway in Moncks Bay will be officially opened on Thursday 30 November.