An astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) took this photograph of Christchurch and the Banks Peninsula, a distinct feature protruding from the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Shades of blue along the coastline accentuate the sediment-laden waters from which the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers flow into the sea. The town of Christchurch and Ellesmere Lake border the peninsula.
Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island and the second most populous city in New Zealand. Located north of the Banks Peninsula, this city is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Port Hills to the south. The hills, harbors and coves of the Banks Peninsula are remnants of extinct and eroded volcanoes.
The sources of the Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers lie in the Southern Alps, a mountain range that runs along most of the west coast of the South Island. Rivers carry large amounts of sediment from the mountains and into the lower Canterbury plains before emptying into the Pacific Ocean. Groundwater from Waimakariri and Rakaia also feeds the brackish lake Ellesmere. The volume and particle size of the sediments lead to the formation of braided rivers. In the case of Waimakariri, the course of the river has been channeled more to reduce flooding.
The photograph of astronaut ISS064-E-44621 was acquired on March 18, 2021, with a Nikon D5 digital camera using a focal length of 116 millimeters. It is provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observation Facility and the Earth Sciences and Remote Sensing Unit of the Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by an Expedition 64 crew member. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station program is supporting the laboratory as part of the ISS National Laboratory to help astronauts take photos of Earth that will be of greatest value to scientists and the public, and to render those images available free on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA / JSC Gateway for Photography of Earth Astronauts. Caption by Laura Phoebus, Jacobs, JETS contract at NASA-JSC.