On the Geraldine - Fairlie road, about 16 kms from Geraldine, there's the Kakahu Bush turnoff, which goes about 1.5 kms along a dirt road to Kakahu Bush.
The approx 8 km Kakahu Bush walk starts at a Victorian lime kiln, built of stone in 1876. The surrounding hilly geology is mainly limestone & some low grade coal, which Victorians burnt with limestone to change calcium carbonate to calcium oxide in the lime kiln. Nowadays lime fertilizer is just crushed limestone without kiln heat. Several birds, like sparrows, use the poke holes in the lime kiln wall as nesting places.
The walk is as long or as short as one wants. It consists of 3 stages:
1. Approx 30 minutes - From the lime kiln car park, along Kakahu River bank, the track goes beside crack willows to the Sanatorium glade, signified by two large pines & an old oak. In spring there's gorse pollution in the bowl of hills surrounding the Sanatorium site.
2. Approx 40 minutes from the Sanatorium glade through steep Kakahu Bush to Hanging Rock. Kakahu Bush consists of kanuka forest, Kunzea ericoides, with the usual understorey & birdlife, like fantails. Some understorey plants: prickly mingimingi, Leptecophylla juniperina; soft mingimingi, Leucopogon fasciculatus; tree fuchsia, Fuchsia excorticata; five finger, Pseudopanax arboreus; broadleaf, Griselinia littoralis; whiteywood, Melicytus ramiflorus; various lancewoods, pittosporums & ferns... In places gorse pollution, Ulex eoropeus & blackberry pollution abounds.
3. The track continues upwards through kanuka forest to The Pinnacles, seen from a hilltop paddock across a bushy valley. A track direction board shows the last loop of the walk around The Pinnacles as 1 hour duration. From Hanging Rock, within 10 minutes we'd wandered onto the hilltop paddock, where we had lunch overlooking The Pinnacles, great lumps of limestone rock in thick bush. We opted not to go around The Pinnacles, as it was windy, so we returned the way we came. Friends texted us that it had snowed that morning at Lake Tekapo & Twizel, so The Pinnacles wind had a cold bite.
Return to the lime kiln car park was easy downhill. In all we walked about 4 hours.
The Pinnacles & Kakahu Bush can be glimpsed from Geraldine - Fairlie road.
Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.