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Homestead Hill Spur, Hakatere Conservation Park

Homestead Hill and Rakaia Valley. Photo: Pat Barrett
Hakatere Conservation Park
2.24km to Homestead hill
South of Rakaia Gorge on SH72 take Blackford Road which becomes Double Hill Run Road and follow for approx 50km to Ensors Road where there is a designated car park
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Homestead Hill and the Palmer Range are now part of Hakatere Conservation Park. It’s a long drive up the Rakaia, on the southbank soad, but one that is always enjoyable as you pass from the intensely cultivated lowlands to the rugged and often inhospitable mid-valley area beyond which the Southern Alps form a massive wall of rock and ice.

The Palmer Range appears benign when contrasted against such a backdrop but is no less challenging in many respects, especially considering the 1300m climb from valley floor to range crest. Head up the ever-steepening spur on the Homestead Hill Easement. The easy angle of the spur slowly closes in as you climb above the terraces over humpy tussock faces, passing through some access gates and then higher onto Homestead Hill itself at 1130m.

Head on up through beech forest, along little tracks under the canopy, until emerging at a razorback ridge which snakes away up the face. With a little care it can be traversed readily enough and soon broadens as the spur makes landfall on another sub-summit. Look for the ridgeline running out to the east and, when you reach a large basin, there’s a stunning perspective of Homestead Hill and the bush-filled gully to its east.