Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence: Places to go in Marlborough


Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence provides a remote experience in a vast rugged high-country landscape straddling the Seaward Kaikoura Range.


All drone use must be authorised by DOC

A concession is required to use a drone on conservation land

Place overview


  • Fishing
  • Four wheel driving
  • Horse riding
  • Hunting
  • Kayaking and canoeing
  • Rafting
  • Walking and tramping
  • Check clean dry
    Stop the spread of didymo and other freshwater pests.

    Remember to Check, Clean, Dry all items before entering, and when moving between, waterways.

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence

About track difficulties
About hut categories


Manakau (2610m) and Te Ao Whekere (2590m) are the most rewarding climbs. A winter traverse on foot or skis is a major undertaking.

Although the routes are not difficult, they are very long and remote. Climbers should be fit and well equipped, prepared to camp out or snow cave, and must seek permission from landowners for access to some areas.


The Clarence River provides ideal brown trout and salmon fishing. A licence from Fish and Game New Zealand is required. Didymo is present in the Clarence River so it is essential that all fishing gear is cleaned.

Rafting on the Clarence River.
Rafting on the Clarence River

Rafting / Kayaking and canoeing

Travelling the Clarence River by raft, canoe or kayak is a great way to see the Clarence Reserve. There are four huts accessible to river users; Forbes, Palmer, Goose Flat and Snowgrass.

Four wheel driving

Vehicle access into the Clarence is arranged by contacting Colin Nimmo of Muzzle Station on +64 3 3195791. A road maintenance fee is charged for motorised vehicles.

Looking down Blind Saddle. Photo: Garry Holz.
Looking down Blind Saddle

Driving in the Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia/Clarence Reserve is at your own risk. The section between the Kahutara gate and Quail Flat is 30 km and will take a minimum of two hours. The road is steep, rough and narrow in places, with several fords. Slips and floods are common; there can be no guarantee of a safe vehicle passage.

The road is suited to people with 4WD experience and drivers need to be fully aware of their surroundings.

In the Special Lease Area

Keep vehicles to the formed track within the Special Lease Area marked on the map. Leave gates as you find them and avoid disrupting farm operations or stock.

Map of Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence (PDF, 657K)

Horse riding

Horse riders will find the Clarence experience hard to beat. You must get an access permit through the DOC office at all times of the year.

Feed availability is unpredictable so it is recommended to take supplementary feed. To reduce the spread of weeds only take grain feed.

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    About this place

    Know before you go

    Getting there

    The main access into the Clarence is over Blind Saddle Road. From Kaikoura, follow SH1 south for 5 km to the Waiau/Mt Lyford turnoff and head inland to the car park at Kahutara River bridge, 25 km from Kaikoura. There is a locked gate here restricting horse and vehicle access. Vehicle access into the Clarence is arranged by contacting Colin Nimmo of Muzzle Station on +64 3 319 5791. A road maintenance fee is charged for motorised vehicles. 4WD open weekends are no longer organised by DOC.

    Be prepared

    Visitors should be prepared for all weathers; snow can fall at any time of the year and the sun can be relentlessly hot. It is important to carry water and be equipped with warm, waterproof clothing, adequate food and accurate maps. It is advised to leave your intentions with family or friends. Remember your safety is your responsibility.

    Dog access

    Dogs are allowed by permit only from Wairau/Renwick Office, and must have a current vet's certificate showing that they have been treated for Taenia ovis (sheep measles) less than 1 month and more than 2 days prior to entering the reserve. Certificates must be carried into the reserve and shown on request.


    Due to the high fire risk, fires are not allowed in Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence.


    Permits for horses, dogs and hunting can be obtained from the Wairau/Renwick DOC office.


    Hunting on public conservation land is by permit only. Hunting in the Special Lease Area requires a separate Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence hunting permit. Contact the Wairau/Renwick DOC office for further information.


    Wairau / Renwick Office
    Phone:   +64 3 572 9100
    Email:   renwick@doc.govt.nz
    Address:   Gee Street
    Marlborough 7204
    Full office details
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