Nature and conservation
The North Opuha Conservation Area covers the lower slopes of the Ben McLeod Range and contains a landscape of valleys and mountain lands. The area covers around 2,000 hectares and has come from Clayton Station completing the tenure review process in September 2003.
The lower, steeper slopes and gullies contain mixed shrublands, while higher slopes are broad sweeps of red and narrow-leaved snow tussock grasslands.
Significant wetlands dominated by red tussocks are found on the valley floor.
Both native and introduced birds are found here. Kea can be found high up in the alpine zone and New Zealand falcon/kārearea has also been seen. Other bird species likely to be encountered include the pipit/pīhoihoi and Australasian harrier. Gulls, ducks and geese are seasonal visitors.
The area is home to a wide range of invertebrates, as well as the more common species of skinks and geckos.
Rivers and wetlands contain upland bully (Gobiomorphus breviceps), Canterbury Galaxias (Galaxias vulgaris) and longfin eels/tuna. Salmon and brown trout are also found in some places where conditions are suitable, but are normally only small in size.
The North Opuha Conservation Area is 30 km NW of Fairlie, opposite the Fox Peak Skifield Area, South Canterbury.
Follow the Lochaber Road past Lake Opuha. Cross the North Opuha Bridge and turn left to continue down Fox Peak Skifield Road.
At the end of the road, just before the bridge leading to the skifield, is a car park.
From the carpark, walk up the road and then along the true left bank of the North Opuha River. After leaving the river a marked easement across freehold land (no hunting on easement) gives access to the upper North Opuha Conservation Area.The easement is for foot, mountain-bike or horse only.
Know before you go
Runholder permission is required before venturing off the public conservation land.