Lake Heron, Ashburton Lakes

Image: Jack Mace | ©

Introduction

Ō Tū Wharekai is nestled amongst high-country tussocklands and set against the towering Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o Te Moana. It is one of the best examples of an inter-montane wetland system in New Zealand.

Highlights

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.

Place overview

Activities

  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking and canoeing

Find things to do and places to stay Ō Tū Wharekai Wetland

About this place

Nature and conservation

Ō Tū Wharekai, Ashburton Lakes.
Ō Tū Wharekai, Ashburton Lakes

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.

Ō Tū Wharekai Outcomes Report 2007-2011 (PDF, 1,180K)

Getting there

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.

Know before you go

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).

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