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Sunday was a perfect sunny afternoon to take a stroll through the delightful Botanical Gardens, within Hagley Park on the edge of Christchurch city centre. Whilst some of the buildings and facilities are still closed following the earthquakes, the Botanical Gardens remain as beautiful as ever.  

Founded in 1863 with the planting of an English Oak tree, the Gardens now feature one of the finest collections of exotic and native plants found in New Zealand.

Towering majestic trees – many over 120 years old – dominate the Botanical Gardens, forming a striking backdrop to the extensive themed plant collections and sweeping lawns.

People were out enjoying the afternoon sunshine, with many sitting on the grass listening to a live music concert.  

A loop of the gently-flowing Avon River, criss-crossed by bridges, encloses a large part of the Gardens, so after we had walked through the length of the park, we decided to head back towards the car by following the river bank.  

We had just passed a young couple feeding the ducks, as a couple of canoes slowly paddled by, when Michael noticed an eel in the water.  He said it was unusual as eels would normally swim along the river bed rather than near to the surface.  It didn’t appear to be distressed in any way, and was was a dark colour and around two feet in length.  The eel was soon joined by another slightly larger grey-coloured one, around 30 inches in length, though the larger eel kept its distance and soon disappeared.  

The smaller eel came right to the river bank, giving every appearance of wanting to be handled.  Indeed, when Michael knelt and reached out to touch him, he not only allowed it, but came back for more!  

I don’t know who was more surprised –  the eel or Michael, who kept saying “Well, in all my sixty years of fishing, I’ve never seen an eel behave like that!”