Riccarton Bush is the only area of podocarp forest remaining in Christchurch. The dense stands of kahikatea and the birdsong, which echoes through the bush, provide a backdrop to the restored early settlers' cottage.
Start: Riccarton House, Riccarton Bush.
Finish: Riccarton House, Riccarton Bush.
Time: 15 minutes.
Toilets: Located near Riccarton House.
Dogs: Prohibited in Riccarton Bush.
Access: Suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.
This is a good walk for a hot day as it winds through the shade of Riccarton Bush. On wet days the boardwalk through the bush may become slippery although the shorter nature trail is well surfaced.
Starting at Riccarton House, walk around towards Deans Cottage then follow the stone path past the information board and through the wooden gate to begin the trail.
Riccarton Bush contains many examples of native trees and shrubs, including the massive trunks of kahikatea as well as matai, phoara, titoki and hinau. Trees in the sub-canopy include kohuhu and the large-leaved tarata (lemonwood). Mahoe and karamu are abundant along tracks and clearings, while cabbage trees (ti kouka) and New Zealand flax (harakeke) are dominant in the damper areas.
A profusion of climbers including native jasmine, pohuehue, bush lawyer and New Zealand passion vine gain their moisture from the ground and weave their way from the dense floor to the high canopy. The passion vine and several other trees such as titoki and hinau are at their southern limit here.
There are plenty of seats located along the track and birdsong echoes through the bush from both native and introduced birds, such as the fantail (piwakawaka), silvereye (tauhou) and grey warbler (riroriro). Riccarton Bush is the main centre of Christchurch's small resident population of wood pigeons (kereru).
Once you have completed the tranquil boardwalk track, follow the signs back to Riccarton House. The many historic exotic trees in the grounds of Riccarton House – oaks, conifers and eucalypts – were planted there during the 1850s.
Kids can earn a Kiwi Guardian(external link) medal here!