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Christchurch South and Lakes

Out from Christchurch is Banks Peninsula. A picturesque place, very hilly with mainly gravel roads. Take your long boards, picnic, spare tyre etc. and explore the many little bays which surround the peninsula - and don't forget to check the weather report of course. or for a real thrill tekw a jet boat ride along the lower reaches of the Canterbury Rivers.Starting inland, the two main lake locations are Coleridge and Clearwater. Closer to the coast is lake Ellesmere and the Christchurch estuary. Just around from the estuary we have Sumner, and the other beaches along the coast north of Christchurch. Over the hill from Christchurch is Lyttelton Harbour, and slightly further away is Akaroa.

Dial-a-forecast: 0900 999 33 / 0900 499 11
Info Centre: Cnr Worcester & Oxford Tce. Ph 03 379 9629
Local Shops:

  • Ski Windsurf City, 64 Manchester St. Ph 03 366 6516
  • Windsurf. Warehouse, 25 Humphries Drive. Ph 03 384 4479


SlalomRace boardRigging
Access: Via Magazine Point. Rig by the toilets by the boat ramp. Launch over the rocks. A small grass rigging area.
Suits: Slalom/longboarding/intermediate
Wind: NE = flukey close in but good 200 m out, SW = patchy but OK.
Water: Good ocean swell
Watch: Your fin when launching over the rocks, ferry traffic!
In Detail: If harbour blasting is for you, then so is Lyttelton. Good harbour swells develop after a day or two of good easterlies, and it general blows about 5kts more here than at the estuary. There are several places in the harbour to launch from, the two main one's being the yacht club at Lyttelton, and a small car park at Chartris bay on the other side of the harbour. Chartris bay is near the head of the harbour, so is tidal, but has a slightly longer range than the estuary. Launching at Lyttelton is a big problem. You can't sail right from the yacht club ramp as it is quite sheltered, instead you have to clamber over 44gal drum size boulders, throw your gear in the water, and then water start. To make life even more difficult it is quite gusty for the first 100-200 meters from the shore, right where most of the yacht traffic is. Once you're out though it's worth it. Good clean breeze, large swells, and relatively few obstacles to avoid.


SlalomRace boardRigging
Akaroa is a quaint little township about an hour and a halfs drive from Christchurch. It's worth going there even you don't intend to go sailing. It was originally settled by the French, but the Brits soon stepped in and took over. The harbour itself is quite a bit bigger than Lyttelton, about 5 nautical miles across. The best sailing is had in southerlies. In winter these are cold and wet and not nice to sail in, but over summer they can be very dry, and of moderate strength, about 15kts. If you are very lucky, the local dolphins may swim around you as you sail along. Scared the s#%t out of me the first time it happened :-) They get tired very quickly if you sail much faster than about 12 kts, and will drop away after a minute or two, but it's more fun if you slow down and let them tag along.


SlalomRace boardLearnerSpeedRigging
Access: From the SW corner of the domain. There is a water ski area there, plenty of parking, grass rigging area and toilets.
Suits: Slalom speed, beginners...
Wind: Any direction is good, S = best, NE = patchy
Water: Flat and shallow, especially by the shore, full of ducks!
Watch: A lot of banks to lose your fin on!
In Detail: 50km south of Christchurch is Lakeside domain. This lake is on the coast, is huge, we're talking a large triangle shape, 25km at the base, about 10km high. The strange thing is that it is very shallow, at lakeside, there aren't many areas deeper than 1.5m. In a westerly, it gets even shallower as the water is pushed to the far side of the lake, in fact sometimes it is not possible to sail at all. The water is very muddy but warm. Easterlies don't often make it to the lake as they have to move around the peninsula, and unless the air is very dry, and it has been from the east for a couple of days it just doesn't make it. Southerlies would be good, if you caught the front, but very cold. Lakeside is, basically speaking, out in the country-side. The nearest shops (service stations, dairies) are about 5km away at Leeston. Ellesmere is definitely the place to go in westerlies if Coleridge and Clearwater are too far away and you're not into wave-sailing.


SlalomRace boardLearnerRigging
Access: 1 hour 30 min. drive from Christchurch, access is best from the Rakaia Gorge ( better than the west coast road). Drive over the farmers property and don't forget to shut the gate!
Suits: Slalom, beginners...
Wind: W, S, E are good. The wind can go from nothing to 40 knots as it funnels through the gorge.
Water: Flat - 1m chop.
Watch: That you have a good wetsuit, it gets very cold!.
In Detail: (Dean) This is an inland lake about 1.5 hours drive from Christchurch, not far from Mount Hutt. It's about 10km long, 2-3km wide, and located in what was once a glacial valley. When the norwest's blow this is one of the best places to be (provided you can water-start). The wind gets up to about 30kts and isn't quit as gusty as down on the plains. In these conditions a very sharp 1m swell builds up, excellent for jumping.
I've only sailed at one place on the lake, Ryton bay, half way up the northern shore, all of which is by the way of an un-sealed road. You turn off this road about 100m before the Ryton river bridge - the maps show the turn off nearly 1km earlier. The stretch of road/track from the bridge is across farm land so normal courtesy should be observed i.e. leave all gates as you found them. If you intend staying the night it's probably best if you check at the farmhouse, back where the maps say the turn-off should be. There isn't much there, a dozen caravans owned mainly by fishermen.
Two other spots can be used, the very top (western) end of the lake, probably very flat speed sailing. The bottom end of the lake apparently gets bigger swells than Ryton bay. The lake also gets the easterlies, but no where near as strong as the norwest, and it's a long way to go when locations closer to Christchurch offer better conditions in an easterly.

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