Nature and conservation
This forest is a remnant of the great beech and podocarp forests that once cloaked inland northern Canterbury.
History and culture
The forest was a source of abundant food for the local Maori of Ngai Tuahuriri, who travelled from Kaiapoi pa on food-gathering expeditions.Tawera is the Maori name for the area which means ‘hot blow’ – no doubt attributed to the infamous Canterbury nor’west winds.
The forest’s magnificent timber later led to the growth of the Oxford township, which had 11 sawmills operating in the area by the mid 1870s. Two major fires fanned by strong nor’west winds in 1898 resulted in the decline of the sawmilling industry, with the last mill of that era closing in1912.
There are several entrances, accessible from Oxford.
View Hill car park
4 km south of Oxford, turn off SH72 (Inland Scenic Route) onto Woodstock Road. Follow this for 10 km then turn into Ingrams Road, then into Limeworks Road, which becomes Perhams Road. An AA sign here indicates the turn-off to the start of the Wharfedale Track where the View Hill car park is located.
In times of heavy rain two fords on Perhams Road may become impassable.
Coopers Creek car park
2 km south of Oxford, turn off SH72 (Inland Scenic Route) onto Woodside Road. Follow this for 7 km, then turn into Mountain Road and continue to Coopers Creek car park at the end.
Lees Valley Road
From Oxford, follow Ashely Gorge Road for 6 km. Turn into Lees Valley Road and follow this for 20 km to the DOC sign.
Know before you go
NZTopo50 map sheet: BW22
Dogs on a leash only.
Wasp populations reach high numbers from January to March – wear light-coloured clothing and carry antihistamine cream/tablets as a precaution.