Looking for something interesting to do over the Christmas holiday break. Why not spend a fascinating day exploring Quail Island in Lyttelton Harbour.
The island is steeped in history. At various times used as a leper colony, quarantine station and working farm. Today the island is a nature reserve with extensive planting and a resident population of native bird species.
There is an excellent 2.5 hour circuit track around the island taking in many points of interest. There are a number of historic sites to visit as well as an informative heritage centre. Alternatively, take a picnic lunch and your swimming gear and spend a relaxing day at Swimmers Bay. Access to the island is via Black Cat cruises each morning and afternoon except Christmas day.
This ANZAC Day, April 25th 2015, marks one hundred years since the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) first landed on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Many special commemorative events will be held throughout Christchurch to mark the event.
The following information is from the Christchurch City Council community events page.
The dawn service will be held in Cranmer Square.
6am–6.15am: the people gather
6.15am: the parade begins
6.30am: the service begins centred around the memorial cenotaph
7. 15am: the service concludes with wreath-laying
Organised by the Canterbury Branch of the Malayan Veterans Association in conjunction with the Christchurch Branch of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RSA) and Christchurch City Council.
Mayor Lianne Dalziel will lay a wreath on behalf of the citizens of Christchurch.
Citizens’ Service: 10am – Christ Church Transitional Cathedral, Latimer Square
Organised by Christchurch City Council in conjunction with Christchurch Cathedral and the RSA. It will be attended by representatives of the Defence Force, Consular Corps and various Christchurch youth groups.
By many measures, 1916 was the worst year of the First World War. More soldiers were killed during 1916 than any other year of the war. Although the year would start with some small hope, by the end stalemate on land had truly set in. Gone was the belief that the war would be “over by Christmas”, and a new understanding of the price to be paid would start to emerge.
Focus on Europe
Of note during the year were the final withdrawal from Gallipoli, the Battles of the Somme, Verdun and massive conflagrations on the Eastern Front. The battle for control of the Atlantic had started to heat up, with major sea battles at Jutland and Dogger Banks and the scourge of the U Boat developing.
On land, the focus of battle had shift from peripheral regions to the trenches of the Western Front. For good or for bad the war would be decided at sea and in Northern France and Belgium.
New Zealand’s role
New Zealand forces had finally shift our prime focus to Europe, before the end of the year the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) would be fully committed to the titanic battles taking place there.
Thankfully, we were not involved in the early stages of the disastrous Battle of the Somme ( 60 000 casualties on day one, 20 000 dead within 24 hours).
However, our forces would play a significant part in the later stages of the battle and start to build the enviable reputation for toughness and resourcefulness that characterised them later in the war.
Crimean War, Eastern Europe, 1853-1856. British deaths from disease 55%, combat deaths 45%.
American Civil War, North America, 1861-1865. Deaths from disease 56%, combat deaths 44%.
First and Second Boer Wars, South Africa, 1880-1881, 1899-1902. British deaths from disease 66%, combat deaths 34%.
Russo-Japanese-War, Asia, 1904-1905. Japanese deaths from disease 35%, combat deaths 65%.
Apart from the Russo-Japanese war, it is obvious that more soldiers died from disease than from combat in the pre war period.
Of the 10 million military deaths during the First World War, 6-7 million died in combat and a staggering 3-4 million died from infectious diseases.
Improvements in ambulatory services, surgery and medical treatment meant that fewer died from infections & sickness. Regardless, a third of deaths during the war still resulted from disease.
Common vectors of illness
The types of illness across theatres is remarkably similar. Epidemics of typhus, malaria, typhoid (the infamous enteric fever), diarrhoea, yellow-fever, pneumonia and influenza, innumerable cases of venereal disease & scabies affected all nations.
Conditions in the trenches also caused specific diseases: trench fever, trench mouth and trench foot were all caused by the filthy conditions. Gangrene and tetenus were also problems.
The deadly 1918 Spanish Influenza was indirectly a result of the massive concentration of men in sub optimum conditions.
The New Zealand story
Of our 16 700 war dead, approximately 11% died of disease. This is 1600 women and men, including 275 from the 1918 Influenza pandemic alone.
Jared M. Diamond, (2005). Guns, germs and steel : a short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years.HM626DIA
The Breeze Walking Festival 2014 starts this Saturday and runs through until Monday the 6th October.
The Festival is a celebration of walking in Christchurch. All trips are free to join & are a great introduction to the joys of travel on your own two feet. There are a series of 38 walks of different length and difficulty ranging from strolls with young children right through to all day tramps on the Port Hills and Canterbury foothills.
Details of the walks with information about transport, meeting places and grade can be found at any of the following sites:
Spring has arrived and for people who enjoy the outdoors fine weather means trips to the mountains, valleys and forest. What a lot of people dont realise is that New Zealand has one of the premier long distance walking trails in the world, the Te Araroa Trail
Te Araroa Trail (TaT)
Te Araroa (The Long Pathway) is New Zealand’s long distance tramping route, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, a distance of over 3000 km’s.
The trail has approximately 300 sections ranging from walks of 1–2 hours through to a 9-day route in the South Island where full equipment must be carried. Te Araroa joins a mixture of existing tracks and walkways, new tracks and link sections alongside roads.
The straight line distance from Cape Reinga to Bluff is 1475 km, but the Te Araroa Trail covers a longer nominal distance of 3000 km. and is constantly being adjusted.
Methods of madness
“Through hiking”, or walking the full length of the trail in one go, takes three to six months. The fastest effort was by British ultramarathon runner Jezz Bragg, who managed 53 days during the 2012-13 season.
Some walkers report around 100 days, but many take their time to enjoy the whole season and spend around 150 days. Most start in September-October and finish early in the new year.
You can also “section hike” various parts of the trail. Section hikers work their way along the trail section by section. In this case it may take several years to complete the whole trail, but the end result is the same.
I am currently section hiking the South Island part of the trail.
How about it, will you take up the challenge?
If you are a fit, keen person looking for a life altering challenge, perhaps the TaT is for you. Check the resources below for more information about the Trail and those who have walked its length:
A Walking Guide To New Zealand’s Long Trail: Te Araroa by Geoff Chapple. This is the official guide book for anyone thinking of walking the trail