Time: 20 min
Distance: 1 km return
From the car park walk 250 m to the road bridge where the track leads across paddocks to the limestone cliffs. At the foot of the impressive limestone escarpment are large mushroom-like rocks which were eroded around their bases thousands of years ago. This area is of great spiritual significance to local Māori and should be treated with respect.
Time: 3 hr
Distance: 8 km return
The first part of the track follows the route of a wooden tramway which over a century ago brought marble chips from quarries in the gorge to the Hall Road kiln. It then passes through an open area where English trees were planted around 1900 as part of a plan to establish a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients.
Re-enter the bush through a gate with a sign and follow the track uphill until you reach a track junction; turn left here and continue up hill to the open paddocks. Follow the marked farm track round the edge of the bush; crossing a small stream before climbing up to Pinnacles Lookout. The lookout gives panoramic views over Kakahu Bush and to the coast. This view point is on top of a high bluff and care should be taken not to get too close to the edge.
From the lookout follow the marked route along the edge of the paddock, re-enter the bush and continue downhill over a small stream before climbing back up to the Balancing Rock; this huge stone sits on top of a buried pinnacle. Just past the Balancing Rock is a track junction, turn left and continue downhill along the track you came in on, back to the lime kiln and car park.
Kakahu Bush is situated on Hall Road, Geraldine. To get there:
This area is regarded as being of national importance by geologists and there are some very interesting and unique geological features. These include an impressive limestone escarpment, mushroom rocks and huge rock pinnacles, some of which have rocks balancing on top.
This is one of the largest remnants of lowland podocarp hardwood forest in Canterbury. The main species include totara, matai, kahikatea, pokaka, mahoe, broadleaf/kāpuka, lemonwood/tarata, lancewood/horoeka and five-finger/whauwhaupaku. There are also significant areas of kanuka shrublands, wetlands and dry rock plant communities.
The birds most often seen at Kakahu include: wood pigeon/kererū, bellbird/koriomako, South Island tomtit/miromiro, brown creeper/pīpipi, fantail/pīwakawaka, kingfisher/kotare and pūkeko. Rare long tailed bats/peka peka live in hollow trees and limestone crevices and only emerge at night.
This was a favourite hunting area for Māori and evidence of Māori occupation can be seen, including rock drawings, shelters, ovens and rubbish pits. A chert deposit was used to produce stone tools.
In 1853 sawmilling began in the areas and today benched tracks and sawpits are the legacy of this activity.
Lime kilns were established in the Kakahu Gorge area and used marble from quarries in the gorge to produce a very high grade burnt lime. Coal mining and brick making were also carried out on the property by early settlers.