Kopuwai Conservation Area
Image: Gilbert van Reenen ©


The Kopuwai Conservation Area protects alpine vegetation, birdlife, lizards and invertebrates and is rich in Maori and European history. It offers a range of recreational activities.


Kopuwai’s 16,780 ha stretch from 800 m above sea level to 1,696 m at the Obelisk/Kopuwai on the Old Man Range. The ranges are dotted with distinctive schist rock tors and bisected by fields of freeze-thaw hummocks and mounds, creating a wave-like effect across the slopes and basins. 

The area is rich in Maori and European history. You can find native flora typical for the windy, mountainous region, and observe a variety of birdlife. The Old Man Range is a sub-alpine island for lizards and invertebrates.

The area offers a range of recreation opportunities including:mountain biking, horse riding, 4WD access on formed tracks, discovering gold diggings, cross-country skiing and hunting.

Nestled in the ranges are the headwaters and alpine basins of Campbell Creek and the Pomahaka and Fraser rivers. The ranges are also bisected by steep gullies that add to the area’s remarkable diversity. Hyde Rock is a short walk over a stile offers spectacular views.

Place overview


  • Four wheel driving
  • Hunting

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Old Woman and Old Man/Kopuwai Ranges

About hut categories

Four wheel driving

The use of 4WD vehicles and trail bikes within Kopuwai is limited to the formed tracks marked on the Kopuwai brochure map. Vehicles have already done considerable damage to fragile areas. This leads to severe erosion, washouts, and a scarred, landscape. Recovery can take many years – if ever!

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    About this place

    Getting there

    The area has several entry points, the Prospect Hill, Omeo Gully Tracks and Symes Road are good examples. Access to the conservation area is on dry-weather, largely un-maintained legal roads. In winter, because of snow and ground conditions they become impassable and are closed.

    Vehicle access along the top of the Old Man Range as far as Hyde Rock to the south and, the TV tower by Kopuwai/Obelisk to the north, is from Symes Road, straight up the hill from Fruitlands.

    The Duffers Saddle entrance is reached via Bannockburn and the road to the Nevis Valley. Just over the brow, the Old Woman Track goes off to the left and climbs to the Kopuwai entrance about four kilometres away. The Old Woman Hut is just inside Kopuwai’s boundary and vehicles can continue to Boundary Gate – 4WD access beyond this requires landowner permission. Walking, biking and horse access is on a marked track, by courtesy of the landowner. Heading south in the conservation area a well-defined walking, biking and horse track leads to Hyde Rock on top of the range. The other 4WD access point is from Shingle Creek, via the Waikaia Bush Road.

    Several access routes cross private land on easements for walkers and mountain bikers only – vehicles need landowner permission. Respect livestock and property and follow the instructions on DOC signs. Leave gates as you find them and use stiles where they’re provided.

    Know before you go

    This area is subject to weather extremes at any time of year and roads can become very wet and swampy. DOC’s office in Alexandra can advise on current conditions.

    In winter the ranges are blanketed in snow. In summer, warm, pleasant conditions can reverse within minutes with freezing temperatures, high winds and severe, disorientating white-outs. Sensible clothing and footwear is essential.


    Kā Moana Haehae / Alexandra Office
    Phone:   +64 3 440 2040
    Email:   alexandra@doc.govt.nz
    Address:   43 Dunstan Road
    Alexandra 9320
    Full office details
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