. . . until you stop and think: where else can you find original native bush in the Christchurch area? The Canterbury Plains ecological region has been very nearly cleared out of natural forest cover. This tiny 6.4ha trampled remnant is invaluable as a recreational and scientific resource to the people of Christchurch. It's not until you begin to look at the individual plant species found here that you begin to notice the diversity still present in this degraded pocket of bush. The specimens of kahikatea are obvious towering over all. Also obvious are pokaka, mahoe, cabbage tree, lacebark, Coprosma robusta, mapou, kohuhu, hinau, lancewood and kowhai. If you look, you can find lemonwood, wineberry, New Zealand flax, pohuehue, bush lawyer, poro poro, five finger, kaikomako, matai, Astelia, New Zealand passion-fruit, titoki, ribbonwood, rohutu, rimu and black beech. On the ground you might see button fern, hen and chickens fern, hounds tongue fern, bush rice grass, even Weraroa erythrocephala, red pouch fungus. If you search through the leaf litter, you could come across pseudoscorpions, tiny ant-sized creatures lacking the scorpion tail, but more than willing to take on the ball-point of a pen with their minute pincers. In autumn a variety of seeds may be found including those of the kahikatea, with their fleshy red "foot." In May and June the orange skins of passion-fruit are conspicuous littering the ground min numerous places. In the trees, you may see grey warblers, and you are sure to see a number of fantails, including possibly the black colour variation. The Riccarton Bush Nursery at 21 Kauri Street sometimes has seedlings surplus to its requirements for replanting programs, which are available for purchase. These seedlings are grown from Riccarton bush seed, and represent the correct genetic material of the original flood plain forest covering the Christchurch area. You can contact the ranger at 348 4277, or check the information board.
To get to Riccarton Bush you should turn off Straven Road onto Kahu Road and drive in at the entrance next to the sign indicating Riccarton House. You can take the #8 or #21 bus from the Square along Riccarton Road to the Riccarton Mall and walk down Kauri Street, or you can take the #24 Ilam bus along Kilmarnock Street and then Kahu Road to the Riccarton House entrance. A third entrance is at the end of Ngahere Street, off Totara Street.
From Riccarton House, where there are toilets, playing fields and seating, a path leads past the historic Deans Cottage and an information board. From here a concrete path leads through a gate into the bush reserve. In the vicinity of the entrance signs mark species, and specimens of rimu and New Zealand myrtle (rohutu) are indicated. As the path bends around toward the Kauri Street entrance, a second path branches off to the right. This path passes one end of the boardwalked circular track before rejoining the original path. The other end of the circular track is met near the Kauri Street entrance, where further signs indicate plant species. A black beech overhangs the picnic area here. The dirt, circular track has wooden steps and sections of elevated boardwalk to protect the ground layer from trampling, and provide the best views of the kahikatea.