Located in the Canterbury region
The reserve is unusually wet allowing tōtara and kahikatea to grow, and climbs to 1171 m where subalpine shrubland is dominated by dracophyllum and slim-leaved snow tussock/wī.
Access to Mt Alford Conservation Area is signposted from the car park at the end of Alford Settlement Road, which is off the Arundel Rakaia Gorge Road (Highway 72). The car park is 12.5 km from Methven.
Public access easements will be closed from 20 September to 20 October inclusive for calving and lambing.
The land at the foot of Mt Alford is swampy because of poor natural drainage. This, together with the shape of the hills, which catch moist weather from most directions, makes the area unusually wet. Because of this, podocarp tree species such as lowland tōtara and kahikatea survive and are regenerating well in the scenic reserve.
In the past, the area has been logged and burned, leaving a fragmented cover of predominantly black and mountain beech/tawhairauriki, found mainly in the stream gullies.
Short tussock grassland, modified by stock, is found above the present tree line. In wetland areas dense red tussock/haumata communities occur.
Around the summit of Mt Alford is subalpine shrubland dominated by Dracophyllum and slim-leaved snow tussock/wī. A small stand of Hall’s tōtara is also present.
Typical forest birds found in the bush are fantail/pīwakawaka, bellbird/korimako, grey warbler/riroriro, rifleman/tītitipounamu, tomtit/miromiro and silvereye/tauhou.
In 1882 a Christchurch architect, Mr J S M Jacobsen found what he thought were diamonds on Mt Alford. This started a ‘rush’ in 1883. Mining companies formed hoping the find would rival the Kimberley field in South Africa.
Prospectors applied for licences over 20,000 acres of Mt Alford and a settlement called Diamond Town was laid out in 161 quarter-acre sections.
As time went on rumours about the lack of genuine diamonds became more common until finally a valuation telegram was received stating:
“Stones have been tested by the highest authorities who affirmed that they were not diamonds but only crystals”.
The ‘rush’ collapsed and those remaining in the area turned once again to the real wealth of the area, its timber.