Lake Heron, Ashburton Lakes
Image: Jack Mace | ©
Located in the Canterbury region
The lakes and surrounding area provide opportunities for wind surfing, sailing, bird watching, kayaking, fishing and swimming as well as hunting, mountain biking and walking.
Ō Tū Wharekai, nestled amongst high-country tussocklands and set against the towering Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o Te Moana, is one of the best examples of an inter-montane wetland system in New Zealand.
It is a mosaic of diverse wetland habitats including the braided upper Rangitata River and the 12 Ashburton lakes.
It is nationally important for wildlife and is home to wrybills/ngutu pare, Australasian crested grebes/kāmana and black-fronted terns/tarapirohe.
There are a number of threatened plants, as well as some of the best examples of red tussock and Carex secta wetlands in Canterbury.
At Mt Somers village, turn off the Arundel-Rakaia Gorge Road (Scenic Highway 72) and follow Ashburton Gorge Road towards Hakatere Corner.
Here you can head towards lakes Clearwater and Emma or turn right to lakes Emily and Heron.
Signs indicate public access to the marked tracks.
There are numerous other wetlands in Ō Tū Wharekai.
Check out Lakes Heron and Clearwater from your vehicle or tramp to the secluded Mystery Lake (9.2 km/5 hr 45 min).