I discovered this photo gem while looking for something else (that was never found). A blast from the past, it recalls the early days of Punting on the Avon, instigated in 1986 by Geoff Ellis who developed the riverside Edmonds Band Rotunda Restaurant. This scene quickly became one to identify Christchurch. The trick was to get down by the river late afternoon during the latter part of autumn to capture the background colours. This shot became a popular tourist poster during the early 1990s. Ellis made a good start with punting that expanded along the river. Wesley Golledge founded a thriving punting operation from the Antigua Boatsheds in 1994. He recalls a long queue waiting when he arrived on day one. He eventually combined the business, on three city sites, into the Welcome Aboard Christchurch brand.
The Band Rotunda restaurant is no more, a casualty of the earthquakes, so the photograph cannot be repeated. But an excellent inside the cordon punt ride is operating from the Worcester Boulevard Bridge. It is a sobering experience passing the semi-derelict Christchurch Town Hall and seeing demolition machinery, appearing like so many giant dinosaurs, clawing steel and concrete beams.
For a Christchurch as it was experience, head to the Antigua boatsheds and glide along the river dividing Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens. Don’t let winter deter a punting experience. Rugs and even hot water bottles are provided. Believe me, punting becomes a cosy experience. I tried it once after a big snow fall. It was very quiet and spectacular.