Restricted access to Ruahine Forest Park via a private road through Big Hill Station is permitted by agreement with the landowner.

Strict conditions are in place to mitigate issues relating to safety and disruptions to their farming operations. A ballot system is run to manage access fairly.

Access agreement

Big Hill Station management has an access agreement with DOC, with the following conditions:

  • This agreement allows for two hunting parties and one recreation party per week to access Ruahine Forest Park via a private road through Big Hill Station. It does not allow the permit holder to enter any other private land.
  • Access permits are issued for a period of one week from Friday to the following Thursday.
  • One vehicle is permitted per party.
  • You may only make one trip in and one trip out during your permit period.

Entry times:

  • 5 pm to 6 pm Friday
  • 7:30 am to 8:30 am Saturday.

Note: Occasionally access may be denied or deferred to conform with stock movements or other station activities.

Applying for access

Applications for the 2022/23 season can be made from 9 am 1 June until 4 pm 31 August 2022.

  • Applicantions must be made online. Contact the Wellington Visitor Centre or Palmerston North office if you require assistance.
  • An application fee of $20 must be paid on application. This is a non-refundable fee that will be charged for each ballot application, regardless of success. A credit or debit card is required to make payment. 
  • Applicants must specify preferred dates for access, selecting up to three choices. You may also opt to be entered into a draw for any unfilled spaces if you are not successful in obtaining any of your preferred dates.
  • There is a maximum party size of five. The party leader and all party members must be named on the application.
  • Applications must be complete and true. 

The ballot will be drawn on the first working day of September and all applicants will be notified shortly thereafter.

General conditions

  • Access is via a single lane farm road.4WD vehicles only; the road is not suitable for 2WD.
  • You must keep vehicle speed below 15km/hour at all times and recognise that stock and vehicles belonging to the station have priority use of the road.
  • Extreme care must be taken at all times.
  • Do not disturb livestock. Leave gates as you find them and ensure that they are properly latched.
  • Big Hill Station access permits only allow the holder to enter the Ruahine Forest Park via the Big Hill Station farm road. It does not give you permission to cross any other private land. Te Koau and Awarua O Hinemanu blocks are privately owned. You must get a permit from the landowner to access these blocks.
  • Do not venture beyond agreed access and park boundaries. Most conservation areas are signposted but boundaries are not always clearly defined. Make sure you know where the boundaries are and, if in doubt, check with the adjoining landowner or the local DOC office. The western boundary begins at GMT coordinates E2790694 N6176095, about 3km before the end of No Man's Road. Map showing boundaries (PDF, 353K).

Note: Access is closed to the public from August through to October for farming operations (lambing).

Access permit and vehicle card

Successful applicants will receive an access permit confirmation letter, which must be produced if requested. This will include a vehicle card, which must be displayed where it can be easily seen on your windscreen for the duration of your trip. It will also include a landowner notification slip, which must be left in the Big Hill Station letterbox.

  • One permit per party leader will be issued for the season.
  • The party leader for hunting access must be 16 years and over and hold a valid firearms licence.
  • The access permit is valid only for the named party leader.
  • Should the party leader be unable to make the trip, the permit is not transferrable to other members of the party and will be cancelled.
  • If you are unable to make your trip, advise the Palmerston North Office.

Note: The permit is for access only - stopping or shooting on Big Hill Station is illegal.

Access key

Keys are available from the Palmerston North or Napier office.

Ensure keys are returned to the office within two working days of the end of your trip. Lost keys may result in charges for both administration and replacement.

Hunting permits

If you are hunting on designated areas of conservation land you must have a current hunting permit and be able to produce this if requested by a DOC ranger.

Apply for a hunting permit online

Recreation access permit

Access permits for recreation parties are specifically for trampers, runners, mountain bikers, four-wheel drivers, bird watchers and cross-country skiers. Firearms are not to be carried across Big Hill Station either on foot or in a vehicle when entering under a recreation access permit.

No Man's Road tramping/mountain biking/running/bird watching/4WDing/Cross country skiing tracks


Ruahine Hut (sleeps 8) requires one standard hut ticket per night ($5 per night per adult). Hut tickets and/or backcountry hut passes can be purchased from any DOC office.

Ruahine Hut

Note: No Mans Hut and Te Koau Hut are a privately owned and are not part of the land managed by DOC. To enquire about staying in these huts, phone Peter Steedman on +64 27 498 8910 or email

Motorbikes and mountain bikes

All two and four wheeled motorbikes and mountain bikes must be transported to the Forest Park boundary before being used. Use of these vehicles in the park is restricted to No Mans Road only.


No dogs are permitted to be taken across Big Hill Station.

Compliance with access conditions

Consideration and compliance with the access conditions are the key to enjoying future hunting and tramping opportunities in this area. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in your permit being revoked and future access being denied.

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