Christchurch Quail Island Walk,NZ

by Ellen Yule October. 02, 2008 16456 views

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Photo: Ellen Yule & Amelia Homs Ferrer

Ōtamahua/Quail Island - Canterbury’s largest island is an inner harbour island, reached via a 8-minute ferry ride from Lyttelton Harbour, Christchurch. Those volcanic islands were formed 11-15 million years ago.

Photo: Ellen Yule and Amelia Homs Ferrer

The Maori name for Quail Island is Otamahua, which means ‘place to gather sea-bird eggs’. The island was used for the collection of food - seabird eggs and fishing mostly by Maori children.

Animal Quarantine Stables - In 1874 a quarantine station was built to isolate those immigrants who had spent 3 months at sea in cramped conditions with lack of fresh food at high risks of disease and sickness. All imported stock from England had to be quarantined on Quail Island before arriving in Lyttelton.

Have a picnic lunch prior to a 2-hour walk around Quail Island.

The stunning landscape is a feast of eyes.

Today Quail Island is home to native birds including the fantail, kingfisher, silvereye and many sea birds including the rare white flippered little blue penguins.

New Zealand native flax

The solar panels supply energy of maintainance.

Check out what plants and animals occupied Quail Island long ago before human being arrived in New Zealand.

new life force

a pine tree was destroyed by a natural disaster

The native trees and shrubs were replanted by volunteers to reintroduce native wildlife on Quail Island.

The wooden benches were donated by Canterburians for you to have a rest.

A ships’ graveyard contains wrecks of at least fourteen ships scuttled off-shore. The hulks of disused ships were beached in this bay from 1902 until 1951. Some of those ships had a colourful life.

In 1907 the island was home to the first and only leprosy colony in New Zealand. Up to 9 patients were housed here at its peak. The only recorded death at the Leprosy Colony is that of Ivon Crispen Skelton who died aged 25 of leprosy, buried at this site in 1923.

For 40 years, cockle shell collected from Walker's Beach was crushed into grit and added to poultry feed to strengthen eggshell until 1970 when shell-grit was replaced by lime.

Warning!! Do not handle any bait! Poison laid on Quail Island to eradicate rats, mice, rabbits, hares, possums and other pets for the sake of native birds, insects and lizards.

The Antarctica explorers, Scott and Shackleton, took advantage of Quail Island to train their sled dogs and ponies before setting off on their ill-fated voyages during 1901 and 1910.

Why would the journey to the South Pole start here?
Between 1901 and 1929 four Antarctic expeditions used Lyttelton as their base. Quail Island was used to train their dogs and ponies.

The sledge dogs and ponies were kept on Quail Island under quarantine until the expeditions left for the South Pole. Dogs and ponies were loaded at this jetty for transfer to the expedition ship at Lyttelton.

Can you imagine how the dogs and ponies were trained here for Antarctic expeditions?
Two wheels were put on a sledge.

How did the Antarctic trainers get round the lack of ice and snow?

The smooth sand of the Swimmer's Beach took the place of snow for training the ponies and mules.

Shell collecting can be an amusing activity on Quail Island.

Remember to brush your shoes before cruising back to Lyttelton Harbour. And take home all your rubbish.

Native birds and animals (NO PEOPLE) are the only permanent residents on Quail Island.

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