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Rakaia Gorge Walkway, Canterbury

View of the Upper Rakaia Gorge with the Mt Hutt Range in the background. Photo: Andrew Lowton
Area
Canterbury
Distance
4.42km (one way)
Time
3-4hr (return)
Grade
Easy
Access
There is a small parking area at the northern end of the Rakaia Gorge Bridge and a larger car park further back along SH72
Map
BX20
GPX File
Rakaia Gorge Walkway (gpx, yo 7 KB)
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The walkway starts across the road from the parking area. For the first 10 minutes the river isn’t visible but then its turquoise waters appear between the trees.

The winding path offers tantalising glimpses at first and then a full-on view of the sweeping bend the river takes before flowing under the bridge.

The track zigzags through stands of trees and up onto a glacial and river-cut terrace bordering a field. Hop over the stile and head to the viewpoint providing fine views of the lower gorge, with the Mt Hutt Range towering above.

From here the walkway follows the rim of the Rakaia Gorge. A weathered information board provides the geological story behind the making of the gorge and identifies layers of rock that are visible in the cliffs, including coal seams.

The trail passes through regenerating forest and emerges alongside a fenced field. Continue down into a gully of montane forest and shrub. Here, a short side track leads to the site of the old Snowdon Coal Mine, which is worth exploring.

Boulder-hop across the creek and climb out of the gully to arrive at a signposted junction. The walkway forms a loop from here to take in the Upper Gorge Viewpoint.

Beyond the viewpoint, the path drops steeply down and back into the forest. A short track leads to the river.