Bridle Path, Christchurch.  
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When the Maori first arrived at Banks Peninsula most of the area was forested. Tussock grassland and ti tree scrub occupied only the most exposed areas. The flood plains and valley bottoms were covered in podocarp forest, mainly totara, matai and kahikatea, along with a mixture of hardwoods. Higher up the hills hardwoods such as lacebark, ribbonwood, tikoki and kowhai became more common and the podocarp's diminished.
When the European colonists arrived 70 percent of the area was still covered in forest. From then on, the devastation of the forest was rapid. From the time the first sawmill was setup in Robinsons Bay, at the head of Akaroa Harbour, in 1854 until the early 1880's nearly all the commercial timber had been cut, and most of the remaining forest had been burnt to make agricultural land.



This is a view of the Gondola Terminus and car park as seen from the Bridle Path.



The Mt Cavendish lookout and upper terminus for the Gondola.



The Heathcote Valley as viewed from the Bridle Path.



The next valley to the west of the Heathcote Valley is the Horotane Valley, a green oasis in amongst the brown of the Port Hills. This view is from Castle Rock, a spectacular outcropping of rock just to the west of the top of the Bridle Path.



This is a Panoramic view of Christchurch as seen from Castle Rock. Imagine looking at this flat expanse through to the Southern Alps with the eyes of the early pioneers. Of course at that time it was covered with native bush, something that was effectively cleared from the plains by the axes and fires of the indefatigable settlers.



A view of central Christchurch from Castle Rock.


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