Mount Thomas Forest Conservation Area
Located in the Canterbury region
IntroductionMount Thomas lies in the foothills of the Southern Alps, about 65 km from Christchurch.
Made up of 10,800 hectares of native tawhai/beech and scattered podocarp forests.
Wooded Gully Picnic Area is the starting point for walks ranging from one-hour family walks to a full-day traverse of the area.
Find things to do and places to stay Mount Thomas Forest Conservation Area
From Oxford, follow Ashley Gorge Road for 13 km to Glentui. Turn into Glentui Bush Road and follow this for 6 km to the end.
From Oxford, follow Ashley Gorge Road for 13 km to Glentui. Continue on Birch Hill Road for 6 km then turn into Hayland Road and follow this for 4 km to the end.
Birch Hill Road can also be accessed from Rangiora via Loburn.
NZTopo50 map sheets: BV22, BV23, BW22, BW23
Privately owned commercial forests are either side of Mount Thomas. Two of the tracks pass through sections of commercial forest – keep to the tracks and note that fires are prohibited in these areas. Signs will indicate when these tracks are closed for forestry operations or in cases of extreme fire danger.
In the Glentui - Ashley Gorge area you can see remnants of the native vegetation that once existed throughout the region, including native tawhai/beech forest, scattered podocarp forests, tussock fields and Dracophyllum scrub.
A black sooty fungus covers many of the tawhai trees. This fungus is associated with honeydew; excreted by a soft scale insect feeding on the tree’s sap. The honeydew is seen hanging from fine silvery threads protruding from the black fungus. Honeydew is an important part of the forest’s food chain.
Native birdlife to be seen and heard here includes; pīwakawaka/fantail, korimako/bellbird, silvereye, miromiro/tomtit, riroriro/greywarbler, brown creeper, kererū/wood pigeon and tītītipounamu/rifleman and on occasion kārearea/NZ falcon, kākāriki/NZ parakeet and kea. You may also hear the introduced chaffinch, red poll, blackbird, or song thrush.