Nature and conservation
Fescue tussock and snow tussock grasslands are common, with remnants of largely mountain beech/tawhairauriki forest along the eastern foothills. Second-growth forest is also present in pockets along the foothills.
Threatened plants in the area include a tiny forgetme-not (Myosotis brevis), a sedge (Carex tenuiculmis) and one of the largest known populations of a native lily, Iphigenia novae-zelandiae, in New Zealand.
Wetlands in the park include some of the best examples of red tussock (Chionochloa rubra) and Carex secta/pūkio in Canterbury. The park is one of three sites that make up a national wetland restoration programme. Read about the Ō Tū Wharekai wetland restoration project
An extensive network of kettle hole wetlands, with associated turf vegetation, occurs among moraines and is a rare habitat type nationally. Many threatened turfforming plants are found here.
The rivers, lakes and wetlands provide nationally important habitats for many bird species.
Lizards/ngārara are also found, including the scree skink/mokomoko, one of New Zealand’s largest lizards. There is a spectacular and distinct wētā, Mount Somers giant wētā, a Deinacrida species, as well as native fish and a diverse range of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.
History and culture
The park was part of the seasonal trail of mahinga kai and resource gathering. Knowledge of these trails continues to be held by whānau and hapū and is regarded as taonga. Mahinga kai resources taken from the area include: tuna/eels, weka, kākā, kererū, tūi, pūkeko, aruhe / fern root, kiore, kōkopu, tikumu and ti kōuka/ cabbage tree.
A Statutory Acknowledgement and Deed of Recognition has been placed over the area through the Ngāi Tahu Settlement Act 1998, to formally acknowledge the association and values that Ō Tū Wharekai (Ashburton Lakes) holds for Ngāi Tahu.
In this area pastoral farming, particularly merino sheep farming, was the dominant activity in early days of European settlement. Within the park, there is evidence of this in the historic hut at Lake Emma, the Hakatere Station buildings, musterers’ huts and pack tracks. Native vegetation, regarded as an obstruction to travel and grazing, was often cleared by burning.
Hakatere Conservation Area (Barossa)
When Barrosa pastoral lease completed the tenure review process in July 2010 around 4,840 hectares became public conservation land.
There are a number of access points into Hakatere Conservation Park:
- Ashburton Gorge Road - visit Stour River and Mount Barrosa.
- Hakatere Potts Road - explore Lake Emma, Lake Clearwater, Mount Sunday or Mount Potts.
- Hakatere Heron Road - discover Buicks Bridge, Maori Lakes, Lake Emily, Lake Heron and Cameron River.
- Blackford Road / Double Hill Run Road - enjoy Turtons Saddle, Double Hill and the Palmer Range.
Know before you go
Natural hazards in the park include weather effects, hypothermia risk, avalanches, rock falls and river crossing.
Weather in this area can change dramatically. If you are planning outdoor activities you must be prepared for any changes.
Cell phone coverage is very limited within much of the park. The use of satellite phones, mountain radios or personal locator beacons can all provide increased personal safety.