Punts back on the Avon River in Christchurch

12:40 pm on 18 September 2010

The punts on Christchurch's Avon River are back in business after testing following the earthquake found the water is back to normal west of Fitzgerald Avenue.

Business has been brisk despite a chilly morning: the ticket seller in charge, Murray Collings, says 25 customers rode in the poled wooden boats before midday, and they were now booked out until late afternoon.

But while the region's beaches are also cleared for use, the lower reaches of Canterbury's rivers remain unsafe.

Downstream from Fitzgerald Avenue, leakage from broken sewerage pipes continues.

There, and on Canterbury's other rivers, high levels of faecal contamination mean rowing, kayaking or catching whitebait are considered dangerous.

Beaches from Taylor's Mistake north to Woodend Beach have been cleared, but seafood in the Avon-Heathcote estuary and near all river mouths remains off-limits.