Riccarton Bush

Riccarton Bush Pūtaringamotu is a 7.8-hectare remnant Kahikatea Forest situated just 3km from the city centre of Christchurch.

Gates are open during daylight hours and public access during these times is free.

Come and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of being in a native forest that has trees that are up to 600 years old. There is nearly 900 metres of tracks to enjoy with it all being flat and accessible to most. As you wind your way through this ancient forest be sure to keep and eye and an ear out for the numerous native birds that call this place home, such as: Kereru/Wood Pigeon, Korimako/Bellbird, Piwakawaka/Fantail, and Riroriro/Grey Warbler. These birds, as well as native insects and geckos are here largely because Riccarton Bush is surrounded by a predator-proof fence.

Pūtaringamotu is hugely significant, ecologically and culturally. It is the largest remnant of alluvial podocarp forest on the lower Canterbury Plains and Banks Peninsula, a forest type that today only covers a tiny fraction of its former extent. It is a key Mahinga Kai site for Ngai Tuahuriri, and the place of first permanent European settlement in Otautahi.

Pūtaringamotu is thought to mean ‘the place of the echo’ or ‘the severed ear’. The latter is thought to refer to the bush being isolated from other forests. It is also believed by local Māori that at a certain place in the forest, those trained and skilled in the practice could hear the sound of people approaching on the trails through the surrounding swampland by putting their ear to the ground – hence the ‘place of the echo’.

The Bush was gifted to the people of Christchurch by the Deans family, with the official hand-over date being 2 November 1914 (when the Riccarton Bush Act was gazetted). The Act seeks to preserve the bush for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of Christchurch. This is achieved through vigilant management by the Riccarton Bush Trust and the operational staff.

Become a Kiwi Guardian

Riccarton Bush Kiwi GuardiansDepartment of Conservation and Toyota have teamed up to create Kiwi Guardians – an activity programme for kids to learn about nature, earn cool rewards and go on epic family adventures.

Download the adventure map (PDF, 1,083K) and go exploring Riccarton Bush Pūtaringamotu.

Look out for the Guardian Post when you get there. On it you’ll find a special code word – write it down.

Tell DOC the Riccarton Bush code word to recieve a special medal for this adventure.

Put the medal on your backpack or pencil case to show everyone the adventure you’ve had.

Each Kiwi Guardians place has a different medal – see how many you can collect.

Guided Bush Walks

Guided eco tours through the ancient native forest of Riccarton Bush are available for groups of 10 or more visitors. Bookings are essential. Please contact us for further details and your requirements.