The other interesting feature of the view west of Christchurch (above) are the bold stripes within what looks like woodland to the north of the river..
I have to say that I have never seen woodland planted in this way before. However, there is a clue in what lies around. The area is clearly quite dry and much of the land is irrigated using a pivot system. Putting 'Eyrewell forest' into Google provided an answer. It's a long answer but the preamble gives the gist ... "if your forest is where the climate dishes out damaging winds, and if those winds come from predictable directions, damage due to wind can be significantly minimised through the use of specific management practices." Basically the area had a history of severe damage to the forest due to north west gales. These winds are like the fohn in Europe and are not only strong but also dessicating as the winds descend from the mountains onto the plains. To combat this a new layout was adopted which aimed to provide maximum shelter to the growing trees. It is apparently the only example of this type of forest management in the Southern hemisphere.North of Christchurch, the plains gradually narrow as the mountains 'close in' on the coast. However, this has the added advantage of creating pockets of land which favour the cultivation of vines. Apparently the area has the warmest summers and driest conditions of all the wine producing regions of South Island and this region in the north of the Canterbury plains is one of the best known wine producing areas in New Zealand. Mark will certainly have cycled past a lot of vineyards today such as this one above in the Waipara valley.