From a relaxed riverside stroll, hidden just steps from the bustling town centre, to challenging hikes through native forest, Geraldine has plenty to offer walkers of all levels.
The riverside walk, located right in the heart of Geraldine, winds its way along the Waihi River taking in Rhododendron Dell, magnificent in spring, as well as a small oasis of native bush found adjacent to Todd Park.
Talbot Forest Scenic Reserve, a remnant of an ancient podocarp forest, overlooks Geraldine and is easily accessible in minutes on foot. The forest has a number of walks and provides cool respite under its canopy of Matai, Kahikatea and Totara trees on a hot summer’s day. Kereru (native wood pigeons) coo quietly overhead while curious fantails and tomtits follow walkers along the trails leading to scenic picnic spots with sweeping views to the ocean and mountains.
Peel Forest, just 20 minutes from Geraldine, has been a popular spot for people wanting to get away from town for nearly 100 years. Originally a timber milling settlement Peel Forest Park was established in the 1920’s to protect the remaining native bush.
Today the forest no longer hums with industry, and instead is a peaceful haven full of native birdsong. Here you’ll find a fantastic variety of ferns and fungi, as well as ancient forest giants, with some trees more than 1000 years old.
Peel Forest Park Scenic Reserve has extensive walking tracks from the awe inspiring 30 minute ‘Big Tree Walk’ to the heady heights of Little Mt Peel, the climb to its 1311m summit is a walk of several hours.
Other tracks will take you to pristine waterfalls of Emily, Rata and Acland Falls, all of which are around an hours return. If you’d prefer a shorter walk, you’ll find easy and flat access via the Kahikatea walk and Dennistoun Bush loop walk – perfect for a forest stroll with the kids.
Passing through Peel Forest leads towards the stunning Rangitata Valley, at the head of which you’ll find the historic high country sheep station of Mesopotamia. Set at the foot of the Two Thumb Range and surrounded by mountains, this remote spot is the starting point of the walkway across the range towards Lake Tekapo and also part of the Te Araroa Trail, ‘the long road’ that snakes its way across the length of the country.
Both Talbot and Peel Forest are unique in Canterbury representing the very last vestiges of native forest in the region and are a must-do for visitors to the area with Orari Gorge Scenic Reserve and Pioneer Park Conservation Area also great for to explore.
The Kakahu Lime Kiln area, south of Geraldine, offers the chance to walk in the footsteps of past pioneers as the walkway follows an old tramway line from the 1880’s used to transport marble chips from the bush clad hilltop to the kiln, which marks the beginning of the walk. Further along the road is a short walk to interesting limestone cliffs.
Geocaching has now become a popular way to add a twist of excitement to a walk and with Geraldine home to more than a hundred caches hidden around the district, intrepid cache hunters are spoilt for choice.