27 - Rush Pool

A fascinating walk back in time to the Stone Age! The Rush Pool is a man-made pond, part of an early Maori 'factory' where argillite was chipped from outcrops on the hillside and made into tools. But don't pack your togs, it's not a pond to swim in!


Time: 3 hours

Area: Maitai Valley

Start Location: Head up the Maitai Valley Road to the Maitai Dam, the carpark just past the dam is the starting point.

Download the Rush Pool map (34KB PDF)

Route directions

Where the 4WD track forks, take the uphill track on the left, climb uphill and then swing to the right as signposted. The track is cut into layers of sandstone deposited on the seabed 250 million years ago. Ignore a right veer straight uphill and then a left downhill turn, and carry on until you come across the signposted Rush Pool track which heads off up some steps on your right. The track follows the original bridle path to Pelorus and crosses the treeless Nelson Mineral Belt with its characteristic reddish brown rocks. The Nelson Mineral Belt consists of heavy ultramafic rocks such as serpentine which once formed the ocean floor and were thrust into the crust of the Gondwana super-continent some 280 million years ago. New Zealand is a small fragment of Gondwana that began breaking apart about 100 million years ago.

Argillite is mudstone that has been hardened by extreme compression. The superior quality of Nelson argillite made it highly prized when manufactured into tools, which were traded by local Maori, while Maori from elsewhere travelled to Nelson to acquire the stone. The early Maori, from around 1500, entered what is known as the Classic Period, leaving behind their Polynesian style of stone tools and adapting to materials available in New Zealand.

Look out for the odd Boulder Bank rock used as a hammer stone. Adzes were only roughly formed at this site and taken to camps on the Maitai River or more distant pa for working into their final form. See Mike Johnston's High Hopes for more information.

You come first to the Rush Pool itself on the right of the track and approximately 50m further up the track is the quarry face surrounded by numerous discarded argillite chips where the rocks were worked. Return by the same route to the car park. No souvenirs please!