Introduction

Following the 2010 earthquake, the bottom kiln is closed but the top kiln is open. Built in the late 1800s, the Staveley Lime Kilns are excellent examples of early New Zealand industry.

Closure of lime kiln

Update December 2013: There are two kilns at the Staveley site and the bottom kiln is closed due to the 2010 Canterbury earthquake but the top kiln is open.

About the kilns

The lime kilns of Staveley in Mid-Canterbury are fascinating examples of a New Zealand industry prior to the turn of the century. As well as being historically interesting, they are visually fascinating, with the rugged appearance of Norman Castle Towers in ruin.

Staveley lime kilns.
The 'pot kiln' near Staveley

The kilns are constructed from limestone quarried in the area, and as a result the kilns are an integral part of the local landscape.

The older of the two kilns, referred to as the 'pot kiln', is believed to have been built prior to 1890, although it is not known who built and operated it.

The second, 'Langdon kiln' was built in 1898 by William Langdon. In 1898, Langdon leased 45 hectares of land near Staveley where he had struck a coal seam, and he used this coal to fire the kiln. The kiln was worked by the Springburn Lime and Coal company and operated until about 1911.

The burnt lime produced at Staveley was used for agriculture. It may have also been used in the building industry for mortar, putty and whitewash. The lime for the older kiln was, at the outset, quarried by hand, using picks.

Crushed limestone was fed into the top of the kilns. The burnt lime was dropped from the kiln into trucks on a tramway in a rectangular tunnel beneath the kilns. The burnt lime was bagged and weighed, then transported to the markets.

The heat while the lime was being burnt must have been intense, and with no proper ventilation in the tunnel, working conditions would have been difficult. There is a story told of a man falling into the Langdon kiln, and being burnt to death - all that remained was the nails from his boots.

Getting there

Staveley township is 1 1/2 hours from Christchurch, inland from Ashburton. The road to the kilns is signposted from Staveley, from state highway 72.

To reach the kilns, an informal walking access crosses farmland from a carpark at the end of Boyds Road, behind the township of Staveley.

Follow the white markers to both kilns from the carpark.

  1. Follow the white markers to the Langdown kiln up the dirt vehicle track. Turn left at the first gate and go down the hill, until you see the kiln on your left.
  2. To reach the pot kiln, continue up the vehicle track over the stile and along the ridge following the markers. The pot kiln is to your left in the gully when you reach the end of the fence line.
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