Harts Creek

Image: Lloyd Mander | ©


This walkway to a bird hide, where you can easily view birdlife, is a great walk for children and families.

Track overview

2.7 km return via same track

Walking and tramping

40 min Easiest: Easy access short walk

Dog access

No dogs

About this track


Starting at the reserve car park, there is a copse of trees to walk through before the track takes you parallel to Harts Creek where swans, ducks and trout can be seen.

Here you walk along a flat track along a stop bank in the open for about 10-15 minutes. The track leads into Harts Creek Wildlife Management Reserve, a densely wooded swamp area. Take care to keep to the board walkway.

The walkway ends at the bird hide, a camouflaged hut set out on the lake for easy viewing of birdlife. The reserve entrance has a pleasant and sheltered spot for picnics. 

The bird hide and boardwalk were built by the Ellesmere Lions Club.

Note: there are predator traps located in the area and can be seen from the walkway. These traps help reduce the predation of bird species that nest in the area.

Getting there

  1. Starting in Leeston, head down Leeston And Lake Road for 4.8 km.
  2. Turn left onto Harts Road and continue down this road for 1 km until an intersection.
  3. Head straight at the intersection. At this point, Harts Road becomes Lower Lake Road.
  4. Continue down Lower Lake Road for 300 m.
  5. At the turn off onto Timber Yard Road, there is a shingle road to your left. There is an orange bird hide sign pointing down the shingle road.
  6. Turn onto this shingle road and cross the bridge.

Nature and conservation

Harts Creek Wildlife Management Reserve lies on the western margins of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere. The reserve provides an excellent habitat for wildlife and is also a wildlife refuge.

Birdlife includes: white swans, black swans, pukeko, parekareka/spotted shag, Canada geese, several species of duck, kōtuku/white heron, kakī/pied stilts, kamana/crested grebe and more, with possible sightings of the elusive matuku/Australasian bittern.

Read about the Harts Creek restoration.

Know before you go

  • The boardwalk can sometimes be submerged during high lake levels. 
  • Keep to the track as access crosses private land.
  • As this is a wildlife area, no dogs, even on leashes, are allowed.
  • Remain on the boardwalk or the marked track at all times.
  • Dress for the weather. Hats and sunscreen are recommended. 
  • As the walk crosses areas of water and a stream is nearby young children must be supervised at all times.
  • Be cautious around the native stinging swamp nettle (urtica perconfusa).
  • No drinking water available on site.
  • No toilets on site.


Ōtautahi / Christchurch Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 379 4082
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   christchurchvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   31 Nga Mahi Road, Sockburn
Christchurch 8042
Postal Address:   Private Bag 11089
Christchurch 8042
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