Kakahu lime kiln

Image: DOC


Take a walk in this area of native bush close to Geraldine which features remarkable rock pinnacles and limestone formations, historic sites, scenic views and is home to the rare long-tailed bat/pekapeka.

Track overview

1- 8 km return via same track

Walking and tramping

20 m - 3 hr Easiest: Short walk
Easy: Walking track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Kakahu Escarpment Track

Time: 20 min
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.

Kakahu Track

Time: 3 hr
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.

Getting there

Kakahu Bush is situated on Hall Road, Geraldine. To get there:

  • drive 15 km from Geraldine, or 32 km from Fairlie on SH79. Turn onto Hall Road and proceed 2 km until you reach the carpark by a large stone lime kiln
  • access is also possible from Temuka by driving 23 km inland via Waitohi Temuka Road, Earl Road and Winchester Hanging Rock Road.

Nature and conservation

Geological features

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. 

The bush

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.

History and culture

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.


Ōtautahi / Christchurch Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 379 4082
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   christchurchvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   31 Nga Mahi Road, Sockburn
Christchurch 8042
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11089
Christchurch 8042
Raukapuka / Geraldine Office
Phone:   +64 3 693 1010
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   esienquiries@doc.govt.nz
Address:   13 – 15 North Terrace
Geraldine 7930
Postal Address:   PO Box 33
Geraldine 7956
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