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March 2019 Issue

Hakatere Conservation Park offers an unrivalled network of river valley and tops tracks

Sandwiched between the headwaters of the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers, Hakatere Conservation Park is a vast area of open tussock country, rolling foothills, mountains, rivers and lakes below the stunning...

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Riding around Lake Clearwater is possible in all seasons. Photo: Dave Mitchell

Paddle Hill Creek and Boundary Hut

A short distance from Haketere on the road to Lake Heron, a 4WD track heads up a vast river terrace to eventually ford Paddle Hill Creek. The track sneaks between Mt Guy and the Dogs Range and then follows the creek all the way to a low saddle, which overlooks the South Ashburton River.

There is a clay descent to the six-bunk Boundary Creek Hut, which is tucked nicely into a sheltered spot beside Boundary Creek and provides a great place for lunch.

Distance 24km return Time 2-3hr Grade Two

Potts Hut Track

A gnarly extension to the trip to Boundary Creek Hut is to climb to the Dogs Range from the hut on the Potts Hut Track. Ride north along the undulating track to a series of zigzags to descend to the large tarn that is the source of Boundary Creek.

A final rocky descent ends at the doorstep of the very historic eight-bunk Potts Hut (built before 1899) perched above the energetic Potts River. The return ride is especially challenging and rewarding. A good option is to stay the night.

Distance 32km return Time 5-6hr Grade Four

(Download the route notes and maps for the Potts Hut Track)

Lake Heron to Barrosa Station
From the parking area at the south end of Lake Heron, a 4WD track leads around the bottom of the lake and up terraces between the Mellish and Swin Streams. The track then heads south across a rough wide shingle fan and squeezes between the Mt Somers and Longman ranges.

The track drops down to Seagull Lake before climbing up and over Finger Stream to Manuka Lake. A short side trip up the Stour River reveals the six bunk Manuka Hut, a good spot for lunch.

Now beneath the Manuka Range, the track fords the Stour River and leads down a tight valley to vast open tussock flats.

The track picks up speed, fording and re-fording the west branch of the Stour River. It turns south hugging the true right bank of the Stour below rocky cliffs and gullies of native broadleaf, manuka and the odd patch of beech forest. A final section of flowing trail leads to the car park adjacent to the Ashburton Gorge Road.

Distance 32km Time 4-5hr Grade Two-three

(Download the route notes and maps for the Lake Heron to Barrosa Station trip)