Pūtaringamotu/Riccarton Bush

Kahikatea buttress roots Kelvin McMillanresize

Pūtaringamotu/Riccarton Bush has significant natural and cultural heritage. The trees in Pūtaringamotu/Riccarton Bush include kahikatea, totara, matai and hinau, some of which are 600 years old and descendants of a 6000 year old floodplain forest. A number of native climbing plants, ferns and mosses are also found here. 

The bush is protected by a predator proof fence and is home to weta and used as a creche for kiwis to learn how to survive on their own before being released into the wild. Fossil records show that the bush was once home to kiwi, takahe and moa. 

Pūtaringamotu was a valuable food and timber source for Ngāi Tahu before European settlement. Read more about the history of the Ngāi Tahu in Pūtaringamotu/Riccarton Bush on the Christchurch City Libraries website(external link).

The first successful European settlers to Pūtaringamotu were the Deans brothers, William and John, who emigrated to New Zealand from Scotland in the 1840s. They renamed their area of settlement 'Riccarton' after their home in Ayrshire, Scotland and renamed the Otakaro River the Avon after the river that ran by their grandfather's property in Lanarkshire.

After agreeing to give up half of their bush settlement to the Canterbury Association, they used the timber in their own half carefully. Some kahikatea and matai was used to frame their buildings but only dead or fallen timber was used as firewood and fencing. In the meantime, the half they had given up was completely cleared by 1851.

In 1914, the Deans family presented the remaining bush to the people of Canterbury under one condition: that it be preserved for all time in its natural state. 

Read more about the history of the Deans family and Riccarton Bush on the Christchurch City Libraries website(external link).

Visit the Riccarton House and Bush(external link) website run by the Riccarton Bush Trust for more information.