The 20 kilometre long ‘Little River Rail Trail’ runs alongside the road to Akaroa: past Motukarara, Lake Ellesmere, (Te Waihora) Birdlings Flat, and Lake Forsyth, before it ends at Little River.
This is the area where I used to camp and eel every March and April, and where my parents, and many others, collected gemstones for polishing and jewellery making. Seems the agates and all the other stones that come down Canterbury rivers tumble along the coastal beaches until they are stopped on Birdlings Fiat by the barrier of Banks Peninsula.
I haven’t cycled it – yet – but know much of it from before it became the popular place it is now. Some 10,000 cyclists use it every year and the numbers are growing annually. With both fresh and salt water, swamp, beach and field, this is one of New Zealand’s significant wetlands. This means it’s a great birding area, providing the perfect habitat for many species – including flocks of up to 500 wrybill – and other waders. I have heard there are over 170 species here and tens of thousands of various birds.