Rock tors above Big Top Hut
Image: John Barkla | DOC 

Introduction

The Rock and Pillar Range, little more than an hour from Dunedin, is one of Otago's most distinctive upland features - its summit ridge dominated by impressive schist tors or rocky pillars.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

Expert: Route

Seasonal restrictions

The Old Dunstan Road is closed in winter (1 June to 1 October).

Dog access

No dogs

About this track

Description

The Rock and Pillar Conservation Area, little more than an hour's drive from Dunedin, is one of Otago's most distinctive upland features; its summit ridge dominated by impressive schist tors or rocky pillars.

The routes described here are for visitors who are both experienced and at least moderately fit.

There are two access routes from the Old Dunstan Road. The Old Dunstan Road is closed in winter (1 June to 1 October) but the rest of the year is open to 2WD vehicles.

The relevant topographical maps for the area are: NZTopo50 series, Sheets CD15 Paerau and CD16 Middlemarch.

1. SH87, 22 km north of Middlemarch

Time: 2 hrs 15 min
Distance: 5 km to conservation area boundary

Car park is signposted on SH87, 22 km north of Middlemarch. To reach the marked route, turn left at the second stile and follow the markers to the conservation boundary.

2. SH87 / Ngapuna Road intersection

Time: 2 hr
Distance: 4.6 km to the conservation area boundary

Parking and toilet facilities are by the Otago Central Rail Trail at the intersection of SH87 and Ngapuna Road, midway between Middlemarch and Hyde. Follow the trail north for 100 m before reaching the beginning of the route.

3. SH87, 9 km north of Middlemarch

Time: 3 hr, 1 hr 30 min to conservation area boundary
Distance:
9.1 km to summit
Seasonal restrictions:  This track goes through a working deer farm with new-born deer present from mid-November to mid-December. During this period hinds may pose a danger to people – use alternative access to the Rock and Pillar Conservation Area at this time.

4WD and mountain biking are permitted. Access and parking is at Kilmory Station, 20 m south of Lug Creek. Because of the fragile environment, vehicles and mountain bikes must keep to the track.

4. SH87, 5 km north of Middlemarch

Time: 15 min
Distance: 1.2 km to the conservation area boundary

Signposted from SH87 (Wandle Road), near the McKinnon Road junction, 2WD access to the parking area is through cattle stops on private property. Park at the car park and walk the marked route to the conservation boundary.

5. Gladbrook Road, northern end

Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 3.7 km to conservation area boundary

Access is from Gladbrook Road near March Creek. Cross the stile and follow the markers to the conservation boundary.

6. Rock Road off Gladbrook Road

Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 4.3 km to conservation area boundary

The parking area and route are reached through a farm gate by turning left at the end of Rock Road. Follow the marked route along the fence line to the conservation boundary.

7. Gladbrook Road southern end

Time: 2 hr
Distance: 5.7 km to conservation area boundary

Access is through private property near the southern end of Gladbrook Road. It is signposted, with markers to the conservation area boundary. Note: The track is closed for lambing 1 September-31 October.

8. Old Dunstan Road at Loganburn Reservoir

From Old Dunstan Road access is at a stile adjacent to the Loganburn Reservoir. 

9. Old Dunstan Road via McPhees Rock

300 m north of McPhees Creek ford on Old Dunstan Road, a 4WD track leads to McPhees Rock and on to the summit. This track crosses private land to the conservation boundary, respect the landowner's property. Because of the fragile environment, vehicles and mountain bikes must keep to the track.

10. Western Rock and Pillar Conservation Area

Steep, rolling tussock land with views overlooking the Maniototo Plains. Access is from the car park south of Waipiata, via Orangapai Road and Hamilton Diggings Road. The track is open to vehicles from 1 November-1 May. To access by 4WD or on horseback, you need the combination for the lock on both gates at either end of the 4WD track. This can be obtained from the DOC office in Alexandra.

11. Sutton Salt Lake

Time: 1 hr return

Walk a loop track around Sutton Salt Lake - New Zealand's only inland salt lake. 

Know before you go

Weather: The Rock and Pillar Conservation Area is very exposed. Wintery conditions can occur at any time of the year, and the area is subject to snow, expecially during winter.

Leaning Lodge Hut is closed until further notice. For further information contact the Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club: otmc@ihug.co.nz.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Contacts

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