Silver beech is the dominant forest tree in the Makarora region; a host of spectacular mistletoe such as Peraxilla colensoi (left). Insect-eating birds such as fantail/pïwakawaka, tomtit/miromiro and rifleman/titipounamu thrive in the invertebrate-rich forest. The endangered mohua or yellowhead can be seen in some valleys in this region, and kakariki (yellow-crowned parakeet), are locally common.
Grasshoppers, weevils and black butterflies are among the many invertebrates seen in the alpine zone among the tussocks and large herbs, such as mountain daisies and buttercups which flower in spring and summer.
Māori from coastal Otago and Southland visited Otago’s inland lakes to hunt moa, kakapo and weka, and to fish. They had camps around the shores of Lakes Wānaka and Hawea and in the Makarora Valley; which they knew of as Kaika Paekai – 'The place of abundant food.'
A pack track existed up the Makarora Valley and across the Haast Pass/Tioripatea from 1876, but it wasn’t until 1965 that the road connecting Wanaka to all of the West Coast was completed.
This area is accessed from SH6 north of Wanaka.