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Many choose this destination from the centre of Christchurch city, walking or cycling through the Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park arriving at Riccarton Bush in about thirty minutes.
Allow an hour to follow the walkway through the forest and sit and meditate beneath the great Kahikatea trees that were once a feature of the Canterbury Plains. Many of the native tree species are labelled beside the path. The quietness and serenity will restore your spirit.
The Maori name for Riccarton is “Putaringamoto” which can be translated as “the severed ear” referring to this surviving area of forest. Prior to 1840 the Maori used the area for hunting birdlife and eels in the Waimari and Otakaro (Avon) rivers.
The 1843 Deans brothers travelled with their families from Scotland to settle in Riccarton. On the deaths of both John and William Deans, the widow of John, Jane Deans, continued to farm the property with the assistance of her son until she died in 1911 at age 87. She was a great pioneer.
The second cottage they built in 1843 is still standing and was carefully restored in 1950. This cottage is open as a museum at all times.
Jane Deans was responsible for most of the planting in this vicinity including the oaks and gum trees that provide welcome shade in the summer months.
Her next home, the magnificent Riccarton House, was built in three stages between 1856 and the 1900’s. The entrance hall and staircase are panelled with oak from the property. Currently this house is being repaired after earthquake damage.
On Saturday morning the grounds of Riccarton House and the lawns beneath the oak trees host an organic market of local produce. Visitors can purchase gourmet food such as free range eggs, organic vegetables and fruit, wine, delicious baking, breads, cheeses and savouries. Many decide to sit on the riverbank and feed the ducks while others drink coffee and listen to the jazz band or buskers.
The Sunday Market sells local craft and is a show place for artists. Jewellery, soaps, perfumes, photographs, art works and a variety of treasures are available for purchase. Spinning wool for hand knitted garments, Maori carving and silverware are also on display. Others enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by.
Riccarton Bush offers respite, history and enchantment on your journey.
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