|Piece of trail coming up to Kaitua Quarry beside Lake Waihora|
|Stilts near the Rail Trail|
After a few kilometres, you reach the edge of Te Waihora/ Lake Ellesmere, one of New Zealand’s most important wetland systems. It is a brackish, shallow lagoon, covering around 20,000 hectares, with an average depth of 1.4m. It is New Zealand’s fifth largest lake and is internationally significant for the large amount of wildlife found there.
|A royal spoonbill gathering|
A wide range of birds, fish, insects and eels are found in the lake, which was considered the foodbasket of the South Island by Ngai Tahu. Birds that we noticed as we biked past include black swans, grey ducks, pied stilts, oystercatchers, royal spoonbills, blue herons, and possibly a white heron (certainly I've seen one of these on other rides on the cycleway). In fact 167 different species of bird have been recorded on this Lake! You can find out more about the Lake at the Waihora Ellesmere Trust website.
The Kaituna Quarry makes a nice stop for a drink and then it's on towards the beach at Birdlings Flat. If you want to see the sea, then you will have to take a side trip for perhaps a kilometre along a quiet stretch of road to check it out. It makes a great spot for a family picnic, particularly if you don't want to go any further.
|Birdlings Flat beach|
|Track alongside Wairewa/ Lake Forsyth|
Little River is a great place to stop for a coffee or some lunch at one of the local cafes before you turn around and bike home again.