An astronaut onboard the International Space Station (ISS) shot 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 accent sediment-laden waters from where the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers enter the sea. The city of Christchurch and Lake Ellesmere flank the peninsula.
Christchurch is the largest city on South Island and the second most populated city in New Zealand. Situated on the north side 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, eroded volcanoes.
The sources of the Waimakariri and Rakaia Rivers are found in the Southern Alps, a mountain range that runs along most of South Island’s west coast. The rivers transport large amounts of sediment from the mountains and into the lower Canterbury Plains before flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Groundwater from the Waimakariri and Rakaia also feeds the brackish Lake Ellesmere. The volume and particle size of the sediment results in the formation of braided rivers. In the case of the Waimakariri, the river course has been further channelized to reduce flooding.
Astronaut photograph 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 Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 64 crew. The image has been cropped and enhanced to improve contrast, and lens artifacts have been removed. The International Space Station Program supports the laboratory as part of the ISS National Lab to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of the greatest value to scientists and the public, and to make those images freely available on the Internet. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA/JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. Caption by Laura Phoebus, Jacobs, JETS Contract at NASA-JSC.