Views of the Southern Alps/Ka Tiritiri o te Moana from the Lauder Basin Conservation Area

Image: DOC


Lauder Basin is around 9,000 ha of stunning high country set in the Dunstan Mountains.


It has an interesting mix of terrain including rocky outcrops, woody gorges, open tussock land, alpine cushion fields and tor studded alpine tops. 

The Lindis Valley altitude rises from 300 m to 1,500 m and this provides captivating views of the Manuherikia and Central Otago to the Upper Clutha and on a fine day as far away as Mt Aspiring/ Tititea and Aoraki/ Mt Cook. 

Place overview


  • Four wheel driving
  • Horse riding
  • Hunting
  • Mountain biking
  • Skiing and ski touring
  • Walking and tramping

In this section

Find things to do and places to stay Lauder Basin Conservation Area

About this place

History and culture

Lauder Station

The documented history of Lauder Station is one of farming, gold mining and coal mining. A coal pit, water races and sluicing remnants from gold mining demonstrate the varying activities which took place on the lease during the 19th century.

The original station purchased by William Davy and Edmund Bowler in 1858, was much larger than today as they also purchased an adjoining station - collectively they were known as Omakau Station comprising 90,960 acres (36,778 ha). Omakau Station changed owners in 1859 and in 1866 the property was split back into the original two stations.

The property changed hands several times from 1867 till the lease for Lauder ceased in 1882 at which time it was divided into five new stations for auction - the station in its current form containing the freehold land and farm buildings was retained by the sellers Handyside and Roberts syndicate until 1883.

The gold mining and related water races near the homestead represent the western extent of the rich gold field deposits which ran from St Bathans, to Vinegar Hill, Cambrians and then to Lauder. The apparent brief mining at the Lauder sluicings possibly signifies the outer limits of the easily mined alluvial gold in this area.

A coal pit. possibly dated as early as the 1870s, shows that gold was not the only precious local resource sought by the early settlers. Coal/lignite deposits were also sought by miners prospecting for gold.

The twelve-stand woolshed, smithy and cook shop, built around 1871, have been well maintained and preserved and are fantastic examples of early 19th century Otago pastoral structures. The registration of these buildings by the Historic Places Trust illustrates the importance of Otago’s early settler history. These buildings are not open to the public but can be viewed from the access easement.


The history of Cluden early pastoralists is similar to that of Lauder.

After surveyor Thompson passed through the Lindis region on his way to Lake Hawea in 1857, Scotsman John McLean, guided by Huruhuru from the Waitaki, crossed the Lindis Pass in 1858 in search of grazing land.

As a result of this search, four grazing licences were leased to McLean, his two brothers and his sister and the 35,200 acre property became known as Morven Hills Station.

In 1874 the property was sold and in the 1880s, parts of the original Morven Hills run were relinquished from the lease. In 1910 the bulk of Morven Hills was broken up into more than 20 smaller runs, Cluden being one of these.

Though the wider Lindis region was of significance to Māori with the Lindis Pass as an important route between the Waitaki and Clutha valleys, little physical evidence remains of early Māori in this region. A fire stick (fire plough), found in the remains of a Māori shelter on Cluden Station, now resides in the Otago Museum. 

Getting there

There are two main public entry points to the Lauder Basin Conservation Area and access is via easements (crossing private land).

  • Access from the east is through Lauder Station. From SH85 heading towards St Bathans, turn on to Loop road, then turn on to Lauder Station road. The car park is on the right before the end of Lauder Station road.
  • Access from the west is though Cluden Station. From SH8 between Tarras and Lindis Valley, turn on to Cluden Creek Rd. The first car park is the Cluden Quarry Car Park and 8 km further along Cluden Creek road is a second car park called the Cluden Creek Car Park.

Locked gates

At both the Lauder and Cluden Station car parks there are locked gates. For horse riding or 4WD activities you will need the code for the padlocks. How to get padlock codes.

Know before you go


  • In summer very hot and dry conditions are common. Carrying an adequate supply of both drinking water and sun protection is essential.
  • In winter, mountaineering experience is required along with knowledge of avalanche conditions. Be prepared.

Access is by easements (crossing private land)

  • These tracks cross and border private land. Respect livestock and property, ensure gates are left as you found them and that, where provided, stiles are used.
  • The Lauder access easement is closed annually for lambing and calving from 20 September to the Thursday prior to Labour weekend inclusive.
  • The easement across Lauder Station allows for 4WD motor vehicle use only, motor cycles and all terrain vehicles are not permitted. Vehicles are not permitted on the Lauder and Cluden Station easements between 8 pm and 7 am.

Camping, dogs and fire

  • Camping is permitted on conservation land only. Camping on the access easements or in the car parks is not permitted.
  • Dogs are permitted in the conservation area but must be confined in a vehicle at all times on the Lauder and Cluden easement tracks.
  • Fires are not permitted.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.


Kā Moana Haehae / Alexandra Office
Phone:   +64 3 440 2040
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   43 Dunstan Road
Alexandra 9320
Postal Address:   PO Box 176
Alexandra 9340
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