Enjoy a wide range of tracks, from an easy, fun cycle with the family along Railway Track, to a steep 50-minute walk to the Whitehorse monument with great views out over Waimate.

Track overview

Walking and tramping

Easy: Walking track

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Railway Track

Track category: Walking track / Grade 1 mountain bike track
Time: 30 min one way (walking)

An easy, level track where the family can enjoy pretending to be trains! This former railway from Waimate to Waihao Forks was opened in 1882. It stopped taking passengers in 1931 and closed in 1953 due to lack of freight. The 2 km section of railway embankment provides a flat track with Deep Creek on one side and wetlands and regenerating bush on the other.

Ngaio Track

Track category: Walking track
Time: 35 min one way (walking)

This track climbs steeply after a few hundred metres and provides great views over Waimate and the surrounding country. The numerous ngaio trees are very unusual; these trees are usually found on the coast but here they enjoy the micro-climate in the gorge.

Waterfall Track

Track category: Walking track
Time: 30 min return (walking)

The waterfall, about 15-m high, is fed by a small stream that may run dry in periods of drought. Follow Railway Track and then walk up Bellbird Track for about 15 minutes until you reach Waterfall Track.

Bellbird Track

Track category: Walking track / Grade 3 mountain bike track
Time: 45 min one way (walking)

This 2 km walk between Railway Track and the top of Ngaio Track passes through areas of regenerating bush.

Quail Track

Track category: Walking track
Time: 35 min one way (walking)

Quail Track connects the middle section of Bellbird Track with Railway Track. It provides an alternative route back to the car park.

Whitehorse Link Track

Track category: Walking track / Grade 1 mountain bike track
Time: 15 min one way (walking)

This track connects with Waimate District Council’s Centrewood Park and the monument commemorating the Clydesdale horse.

Getting there

Follow State Highway 82 (Hakataramea Highway) from Waimate; after about 3.5 km the car park is on the right of the road. 

Nature and conservation

There is a mixture of regenerating podocarp and hardwoods and some coastal species, like ngaio, are present due to the micro climate in the gorge. In December 2010, a fire started by a tree falling on power-lines burnt 154 hectares and took six days to put out. Native bush will again regenerate through the gorse and broom over the coming decades. 

History and culture

The reserve is named after Michael Studholme who was the first European settler in Waimate. He came to New Zealand with his two brothers in 1848. His pastoral lease, 'Te Waimate' was said to be; “an estate which Lincoln delegates, after having visited and inspected the land throughout the Colonies, pronounced to be the very finest in New Zealand, if not in the Southern Hemisphere. So rich is a large portion of the land that it is said to be able to carry a bullock to the acre.”

The reserve was donated to the public by the Gama Foundation in 2008 and then generously gifted to the Department of Conservation to manage in 2009. 


Ōtautahi / Christchurch Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 379 4082
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   31 Nga Mahi Road, Sockburn
Christchurch 8042
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11089
Christchurch 8042
Raukapuka / Geraldine Office
Phone:   +64 3 693 1010
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   13 – 15 North Terrace
Geraldine 7930
Postal Address:   PO Box 33
Geraldine 7956
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