Canterbury Member Group

Farewell to the YHA Christchurch Branch

Welcome to the YHA Canterbury Member Group

It was sad to say 'goodbye' to our old identity dating from early days in the history of the Association, but we've gone through several names - Canterbury Branch (which included the West Coast), North Canterbury Branch (when Timaru members were so active that a South Canterbury Branch was formed) and then Christchurch Branch in more recent times when Greymouth Branch was set up. And now that the old functions of Branches are no longer needed for the administration of the Association due to Constitutional changes, it became logical for us to change our status.

At the AGM in June 2014 we were unable to elect a Branch Committee. But members expressed interest in maintaining our activities within YHA New Zealand. Therefore a Special General Meeting was scheduled for July 23rd and at this the changeover was effected. We are now officially the YHA Canterbury Member Group, and our normal activities will be continued, led by a group of 6 senior financial members as per the Association’s Constitution.

We will continue to meet regularly for social purposes - currently at Avebury House (the Richmond Community Centre), 9 Eveleyn Couzins Avenue, Richmond on the fourth Wednesday monthly at 7.30pm - and hope that members will continue to support us by their attendance. A koha of $2 per person would be appreciated to cover refreshment costs.

At this point the outgoing Committee thanks all those members numbering hundreds - maybe thousands - who have supported YHA and the Christchurch Branch over many years through all the changes that we've been through - fundraising activities, converting disused buildings into great hostels, weekend work parties, social events and hostelling weekends - while enduring friendships have formed. We can't actually build hostels nowadays (OSH would have a fit if they saw movies of the work parties of the 1960s - no hard hats, no scaffolding, no hi-viz clothing, was there even a first aid kit on site?) but we can still use and enjoy the chain of hostels now available.

Programme for the rest of the year

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Instead of our usual get-together at Avebury House we will be meeting at Ngaio Marsh House, Sherwood Road, Cashmere for a guided tour of this historic residence. (A reduced entrance fee of $15 per person has been arranged).
More details in the October newsletter below.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Our annual fundraising sausage sizzle outside Barrington Meats

Show Weekend 14 - 16 November

Possible trip to YHA Picton - Hope we don't get rained out again!

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Our usual Pre-Christmas Pot Luck Meal and get together. Come along from 6.15pm to eat at 7pm.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Meet at the Groynes for a BBQ

Waitangi Weekend   6-8 February 2015

Group trip to Mt Cook YHA?


Lead Members

The current lead members of the group are Wendy Wallace, George Murray, Anne Cooper, Vivian Jones, Lilian van Elk and Gwyn Rogers. If you need any further information about Group activities, try phoning:

Wendy on 338 0550 in the evenings, or Gwyn 332 0758.


Does the 4th Wednesday work still work for you?

At the SGM it was mentioned that a different day of the week/week of the month might suit some members better than the current fourth Wednesday. Do you have any firm preference? It may be possible to change our regular booking at Avebury House.

Did you lose a torch on the night of the AGM on the 25 June - One was found in the car park. Phone the Avebury House office on 381 6615.

If you need any further information about Group activities, try phoning:

Wendy on 338 0550 in the evenings, or Gwyn 332 0758.

In the meantime, enjoy the coming Spring - or is it Winter? Weather doesn't seem to be able to make up its mind!



The latest Newsletter can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

October 2014

May 2014

March 2014

January 2014


Branch activity reports and photos


Leaving Christchurch (or in our case Rangiora) under grey skies, our group wondered what had become of the wonderful summer we had been enjoying to date. As we headed up through North Canterbury there was glimmer of brighter skies towards Kaikoura. We paused for a cuppa/coffee at the little Mainline Station Café at Domett before moving on to St Anne’s wildlife lagoon for a picnic lunch where we enjoyed the autumn colours in the company of many wild birds trying to escape from the shooters. After lunch we drove on to Kaikoura with ever brightening skies, (and even a glimmer of sun) looking forward to a good weekend.

After checking into the hostel, some of us went for a walk to the town in failing daylight wondering what tomorrow might bring as the clouds rolled in again. The evening was spent chatting with the diverse range of hostellers who had come to enjoy the weekend, some from as far away as Auckland.

Saturday dawned clear and sunny so, after enjoying a delicious breakfast served by Christchurch Branch members, some of us used the free time to walk around to Seal Point, taking in the glorious scenery and wildlife which abounds on this walk.

After lunch Kuini (Hostel manager and “mine host”) had arranged for us to take a step back in time and follow in the footsteps of our founder Cora Wilding. We walked up Dempsey’s track (often used by Cora to reach her home on the hill) and through a new subdivision to meet our host for our walk down to Fifeshire (home of Melville and Julie Syme - members of Kaikoura Lions Club) through a lovely garden of many native trees to a beautiful homestead with a “million dollar view”.

After a guided walk through the lovely gardens surrounding the house, we enjoyed a sumptuous afternoon tea served by team of “Lionesses” whilst we took in the view and explored the gardens.

Our walk back to the hostel took us down to the lovely Jimmy Armers beach where some members gathered seaweed!!! I thought we had had plenty to eat so far but maybe this was for dinner!!!

After freshening up back at the hostel, we settled down to listen to the National Board Forum presented by Steve Wakefield (deputy Chair of the National Board) and Mark Wells (Chief Executive of YHA ). This was followed by a short talk by Nicky McArthur of Kaikoura Wilderness Walks who had been on an interesting visit to Antarctica. This was followed by a delicious meal with steak/fish and salad on the menu washed down with a glass of wine or beer. Some even had room for chocolate mud cake and ice-cream which followed.

Another sunny day greeted us on Sunday morning, together with another good breakfast from the team in the kitchen, before we said our farewells to Kuini and her helpers for a very enjoyable Members Weekend.

Many thanks to Kuini and her Kaikoura “contacts”, Christchurch Branch members, other speakers for an informative and very social members weekend.

John Blair, Rangiora

Easter Trip 2012 - Greymouth

The forecast looked good as 14 members of the Branch packed into cars and headed to YHA Greymouth via Arthur’s Pass.

We enjoyed a lunch break beside the lake at Moana and then went on an interesting walk along the Arnold River through bush with lovely views of Lake Brunner.

Some of us stopped at the Brunner Mine Site Memorial for a history lesson, before heading to the hostel which was as welcoming as ever, including a delicious afternoon tea provided by Clarrie, a longstanding member of Greymouth Branch, for which we were very grateful.

Saturday morning, while some checked out the local shops, a group of five of us climbed up through the King Domain Walk to the Lookout where we had a splendid view over the Grey Valley one way and Greymouth town and port the other way.

After lunch back at the Hostel, we all set off to Blackball for the afternoon. This small town founded in 1864 once, in its Hey Day, had a population of 1200. Gold then coal was Blackball’s claim to fame and it was also the birthplace of the New Zealand Labour Party. We enjoyed a walk around the town, part of the Water Race Track, visited the famous Salami Factory and enjoyed some drinks at “Formerly the Blackball Hilton” Hotel.

Saturday evening we enjoyed a meal at “Steamers Restaurant” after a very hot and enjoyable day.

Sunday morning, we drove up the coast to Punakaiki and viewed the fantastic rock formations along with many other tourists. The blowholes were working well owing to a good swell rolling in from the Tasman Sea.

After a coffee, we head to the Pororari River Track as far as the new bridge leading to the Inland Pack Track. We heard a kiwi calling and several other native birds were seen during this lovely river walk. Some of us also visited Truman’s Beach to round of a great day on the coast before heading back to the Hostel.





Easter Monday, on the fourth sunny day, we headed home via Kumara Junction, visiting the historic swimming pool built during the Depression en route (only a 5 minute walk from the main road and well signposted). Most of us met up for lunch at Arthur’s Pass.

Great weather, good company and food. What a great way to spend the Easter break.

Other past events

In March the Branch held a Beetle games night to raise money for the Stewart Island Project.

In February Leo Manders gave a presentation on his travels from Naples to Hong Kong.

Halswell Quarry Walk

The Christchurch Branch recently organised a walk round Halswell Quarry Park. While they did not choose the best weather, nine hardy members enjoyed the walk despite the cold wind and grey skies. They reported that it was interesting to see the growth and development in this area since they visited last year. 


 YHA Members Weekend - Tekapo May 2011

The weekend was enjoyed by 28 members mainly from Christchurch but Dunedin, Invercargill and Timaru were represented. Members arrived at the hostel throughout Friday evening and settled in ready for the following day's activities.

Most members participated in the walk along the lake and up the back of Mt John, enjoying a lunch stop on the way. It was a beautiful day and great views were enjoyed. After a coffee stop at the cafe on top, we descended via the hot pools, ice rink and luge complex where some members later enjoyed a good soak in the pools.

Saturday evening's barbeque was enjoyed by all before some members participated in a "Star Gazing" Tour. The remainder socialised at the hostel and a few games of scrabble were played.

A very informative Board Forum was held in the hostel on Sunday morning, chaired by Coral Laughton, who introduced our newest National Board Members, Steve Wakefield and John Hammond. Mark Wells (Chief Executive) also updated us on recent happenings, including the current situation of the Christchurch Hostels. This was followed by morning tea before members departed for a bit more sightseeing en route home. Christchurch Branch handled the catering well and they were thanked for their effort.


YHA Members Weekend - Kaikoura May 2010

While this event did not attract as many as our previous event those who did attend had a memorable weekend. Friday evening members spent at the hostel socialising and playing scrabble. Saturday dawned and the Branch had breakfast organisation down to a fine art. After breakfast some members set out for a walk guided by Hostel staff member on the Kaikoura Peninsula, others set out to visit the market and shops in the town as we all waited eagerly for the highlight of the weekend, a trip out to see the Dolphins and Albatross.

The boat trip was organised with Dolphin Encounter as a charter trip so we had the boat to ourselves and plenty of space to get really good views of whatever we might find. After a somewhat bumpy fast trip out to sea we could see in the distance the large pod of dolphins we had come to find. There were somewhere around five hundred dolphins leaping and bow riding our boat and everyone had a great time observing their antics and trying to get that special photo, almost impossible with the speed of the dolphins and the motion of the boat. We spent about fifteen minutes watching the dolphin display and then reluctantly moved on to see the next attraction.

Further south along the coast in somewhat smoother water we went looking for Albatross, the boat stopped and a lure of fish scrap was towed behind the boat, immediately small birds arrived for a free feed. The idea is that the albatross see the activity of the other birds and come to see what is on offer, the idea worked and soon we saw the enormous wing span of the albatross as it circled the boat before coming in to land, we saw several varieties of albatross and molly hawks, some in flight some swimming in for a feed. They are truly magnificent birds and a sight I will not forget, the sheer size of the wings means that the birds have to fold them differently, (they look like they are hinged in the middle) when they land. All too soon it was time to return to shore where the Dolphin Encounter folks had laid on afternoon tea and the owner spoke to us about the development of the business.

Back at the hostel after a memorable afternoon it was time for a Kaikoura special meal, Blue cod chips and salad followed by fruit ice-cream. A special surprise was in store for one of our members, it had been discovered that Enio had a special birthday and Kuini (Hostel manager) had managed to get a chocolate cake organised complete with one big candle. The cake was enjoyed by everyone and was the perfect finish to the meal.

The rest of the evening was spent in conversation and games while the rain fell outside. We had been very lucky to have had the good weather we had enjoyed for the boat trip.

Sunday morning after another good breakfast we went down to the council hall for the Members Forum. We had three National Board Members and two National Office Staff present who all took part in the Forum. Jono (Sustain–o-man) gave a talk on the latest developments and plans in the sustainability world and answered our questions. The Board members brought us up to date on the latest YHA news and answered our questions. The Forum was followed by a cuppa and biscuits before we returned to the Hostel for lunch and our journey home.

Special thanks go to Kuini and her staff for making us so welcome and organising the boat trip, and to YHA for discounting the accommodation, we look forward to returning as soon as possible.

Margaret Abbott