Kura Tāwhiti Access Track
Image: Shellie Evans | ©
Follow an easy access track to the site. From here a network of unmarked but worn tracks go up and around large (up to 30 m high) limestone formations. These formations can be seen from the highway but their size is best appreciated up close.
While this walk is in an alpine region, temperatures in summer can be surprisingly hot, so Kura Tawhiti is best experienced in spring or autumn. Try to time your visit to these magnificent limestone formations during the week to get a more tranquil experience, and avoid holiday weekends where possible, as this is when the walk is most popular.
From Christchurch, take SH73 towards the West Coast. Kura Tāwhiti is beside the road about 95 km Christchurch.
The area was once under a large, shallow inland sea that began to fill in about 30 million years ago. Pressure over time caused extensive uplift, folding and faulting of the Torlesse and Craigieburn ranges. The limestone rock has been eroded by water into the distinctive sculptured landforms.
Kura Tāwhiti is the first reserve in New Zealand established specifically to protect a plant – the Castle Hill buttercup. With just 67 plants in existence, the Castle Hill buttercup can only be found within the 6-ha reserve.
This area is tōpuni (sacred) to the local Ngāi Tahu iwi, with their long history of this area for shelter and food gathering trips.
Ensure you take:
There have been reports of cars being broken into and disabled at track ends.