Located in the Canterbury region
Fishing for trout on the Waiau, Henry and Ada rivers and lakes Guyon and Tennyson is available to all fishing licence holders. Licences are available from fishing / outdoor sports shops, Fish & Game Council offices and information / visitor centres.
Further information, including sports fishing regulations, is available from Fish & Game.
Vehicles are usually restricted to the Edwards Valley and Maling Pass 4WD tracks from Tophouse Road as far as the signs by the Waiau River. Vehicle access is controlled by gates with different combination locks at the two track entrances, at Edwards Valley and Maling Pass car parks.
Off-road vehicle users need to register before taking their motorised vehicles into the St James Conservation Area. Read more about motor vehicle access and access gate codes.
You can take your horses through most of St James Conservation Area, with the exception of the St James Walkway and the privately fenced land around Ada homestead.
The St James horse herd can be seen around the Henry, Waiau and Ada river valleys. These horses are mustered and the off-spring removed and sold every two years. A stallion and up to 30 brood mares are contained within the Henry River catchment (which includes the Henry Track and access to Anne Hut). Leave the gates closed at all times.
The horses are technically wild as they cannot be handled and will generally move away from visitors, but do not chase them and avoid contact with the stallion and mares with foals at foot. For more information, contact the DOC office during office hours.
Horses can follow most of the mountain-biking tracks – except the 5 km of mountain-biking track from the Maling Pass-Waiau River junction to the turn-off to Lake Guyon. This section of track is too narrow to accommodate horses, walkers and mountain bikes. Horse riders will need cross to the true right of the Waiau River for this particular section if wanting to access Lake Guyon from Maling Pass.
In normal flows the Waiau River is more easily crossed in the upper reaches. Note: Saddle Spur and McArthur bridges further down the Waiau River are not suitable for horses.
The upper Waiau River from Maling Pass to the Hope River confluence is reputed to be one of the best rivers for rafting and kayaking in the eastern South Island. Experience is essential for those not in a guided party.
There are four gorges graded 3–4 depending on river flow. The first gorge between Maling Pass and the Edwards River is the most challenging. The three gorges after the Edwards River confluence include the notorious ‘Narrows’.
The Edwards River confluence is the last exit point until the Waiau River runs alongside SH 7. There are limited access points for vehicles and some boat carrying will be necessary.
For more information refer to the Whitewater NZ website.
Hanmer Springs Ski Area (formerly the Amuri Ski Field) falls within the conservation area. It is a club-run facility that operates under a concession to use public conservation land.
The ski area is open to the public during the winter season and provides ski-hire, poma and rope tows, a day lodge and accommodation as well as a shuttle service to and from Hanmer Springs. The ski-field road is closed to vehicles in summer, but can still be used by cyclists and walkers.
There are also opportunities for heli-skiing and ski-touring in the St James Conservation Area.
You can access the St James Conservation Area either from the west side on SH 7 or on the eastern boundary along Tophouse Road.
The western side provides access to the St James Walkway which starts and finishes on SH 7. Entry points are either at the top of the Lewis Pass just off the car park and picnic area, or at the Boyle Village from SH 7, Lewis Pass Road. There is no further vehicle access from SH 7, and please note that mountain bikes and horses are not permitted on the St James Walkway.
Do not trespass onto Glenhope Station.
Glenhope Station’s boundary surrounds Boyle River on the section of St James Walkway from Boyle Village to Magdalen Hut. Stay on the track and note that hunting is not permitted on Glenhope Station – offenders can be prosecuted for trespassing and poaching.
The east side of the St James Conservation Area can be reached via Hanmer Springs.
From Hanmer Springs township, take Clarence Valley Road over Jacks Pass to connect with Tophouse Road (approximately 13 km from Hanmer Springs). This road follows the eastern boundary of the conservation area as far as Lake Tennyson. This road follows the eastern boundary of St James Conservation Area to Lake Tennyson. All tracks along this road are open to cyclists, horse riders and walkers.
Off-road parking is available at St James Homestead and at the entrances to Maling Pass and Fowlers Pass tracks. Do not leave valuables in your vehicle.
There is no regular public transport along this route although there are numerous options for chartering transport from Hanmer. The latest information is available at the Hanmer Springs i-SITE (+64 3 3150020), 10 am - 5 pm, 7 days a week, except for Christmas Day.
St James is an alpine environment, subject to weather extremes, flooded rivers and avalanches. Visitors must be prepared for the worst at all times:
Avalanches can occur in St James Conservation Area in any season. Find out about avalanche danger in St James Conservation Area.
You can take dogs onto St James east of the Waiau River (ie: access from Tophouse Road).
To protect its high conservation values and vulnerable native birds, particularly kiwi, dogs are not permitted west of the Waiau River.
Dogs must be kept under control at all times. Clean up after your dog and remove any faeces. Dogs are not permitted in any of the huts.
Fire is always a conservation concern in the high country. There will be no open fires in the St James Conservation Area.
The government purchased St James Station as public conservation land in 2008, funded by the Nature Heritage Fund.
It was purchased to protect its natural, physical and cultural values and to open it up to outdoor recreation and tourism.
Vegetation within the area includes red, mountain and silver beech/tawhairauriki/ tawhairaunui forests, mānuka/kānuka and matagouri scrublands, numerous alpine species, at least five species of tussock, and a vast expanse of valley-floor native grasslands. Some 430 indigenous species of flora and 30 native bird species have been identified.
St James Conservation Area was one of the largest operating cattle/sheep stations in the country, dating back to 1862. Read more about the homesteads of St James Conservation Area.