A car park on Ashburton Gorge Road at the Stour River bridge is at the start of a track up the river to the public conservation land (3 km). The track gives easy access to Lake Emily (15 km) or to Manuka Hut (17 km).
The track follows the Stour River, which is carving its way through rhyolite bedrock, formed during volcanic eruptions. When this molten rock flowed past, it would have been between 700°C and 1200°C. As the lava cooled, it split, making the columns that can be seen along the valley sides. The rhyolite makes a rich soil, which supports a wide range of plants. You will see bright green patches of broadleaf/kāpuka, while the dull green, deciduous trees are mountain ribbonwood/houhi. Mountain beech/tawhairauriki is also here; it can grow on mountain sides up to 1260 m!
If you go off track, watch out for live ammunition. This land was once used for army training, and there may still be live ammunition lying around. If you see any suspicious items, do not handle them. If possible, note the location and inform the police as soon as possible.
For more information please view more information about the Hakatere Conservation Park supplied by the Department ofConservation.