Riccarton House / Bush, Christchurch
Venturing out into the suburbs of Christchurch isn’t always the best idea (mainly because there isn’t much to see and do), but Riccarton is a little different. Most people are drawn there by the massive mall, but just around the corner sits Riccarton House and Deans Cottage, bordered by one of the last tracts of native forest in Christchurch.
Built between 1856 and 1900 (in three stages), Riccarton House is one of the prettiest old buildings in Christchurch. To see the whole thing, you’ll have to take a tour, but you can see the downstairs areas for free. There’s also a café on the ground floor and it sits right next to the Avon River — such a peaceful location!
James and John Deans were key pioneers in the early days of Canterbury. They were responsible for naming things (including the Avon River and Riccarton) and John Deans (and later his widow Jane) were instrumental in making sure Riccarton Bush was preserved forever. It looks like they got their wish! Deans cottage, which was built in 1843, is the oldest surviving building in the Canterbury Plains. It’s tiny and gives you an idea of what living in New Zealand all those years ago would have been like.
This small area of native forest is surrounded by predator free fencing, meaning the wildlife located within, including wetas, kiwis and other birds, have a chance to thrive. We didn’t see any, and it’s not the most exciting bit of bush in New Zealand, but it only takes 5-10 minutes to walk through and is worth checking out.
From the quiet elegance of the bush and historic houses, your likely next stop in Riccarton will be the mall. I’m not a big mall guy but you can’t argue with the food options and it’s a good place to do some shopping or watch a movie.
Riccarton is a major suburb of Christchurch and is pretty easy to find. It’s only around 4 km from the centre of the city so you could walk, catch a bus (there are lots of options) or drive.
Are you planning a trip to Christchurch? Check out some of my other posts for inspiration!
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