Kopuwai Conservation Area
Image: Gilbert van Reenen | ©



The Kopuwai Conservation Area protects alpine vegetation, birdlife, lizards, and invertebrates and is rich in Māori and European history. It offers a range of recreational activities.

Find things to do and places to stay Kopuwai Conservation Area

The use of 4WD vehicles and trail bikes within Kopuwai is limited to the formed tracks marked on the Kopuwai brochure map. Keep to the formed tracks as vehicles have already done considerable damage to fragile areas. Recovery can take many years – if ever.

There are opportunities for cross country ski touring in the Kopuwai Conservation Area. The terrain may often appear non-threatening compared to that of steeper slopes. However, this is an exposed alpine area with an unpredictable climate – skiers venturing into this area require good alpine navigational and snow survival skills.

Early season information about this area from Ski Touring New Zealand.

Ski options

When there's good snow conditions, these are good skiing trips:

  • Skiing from the Obelisk to Hyde Rock then down to Nicholsons Hut and playing around in that basin, and
  • Skiing on from Nicholsons Hut via the ridge to Boundary Hut.

Navigation can be tricky so always have good navigation tools and know how to use them. You can encounter icy and difficult conditions.

Weather and fog: Temperatures at this altitude can change suddenly even in mid-summer. Take warm and windproof clothing. Fog can roll in quickly – take a map and GPS to help with navigation during the fog.

Avalanches: Be avalanche aware as this area has ‘simple’ avalanche terrain.

Snow location

The ridges of the area are relatively bare during winter due to strong winds. Snow is normally windblown down and caught in the gullies. The best time to venture into this area is after a big Southerly storm when it has brought a cold frigid air mass with snow from Antarctica.

Snowmobilies (over-snow vehicles)

Recreational use of snowmobiles is only allowed in a designated area within the Old Man/Kopuwai Conservation area.

Map showing where snowmobiles are allowed (PDF, 1,511K).

Ride responsibly to minimise your impact on this conservation area and the enjoyment of others.


Wānaka Tititea/Mount Aspiring National Park Visitor Centre
Phone +64 3 443 7660
Email wanakavc@doc.govt.nz
Address 1 Ballantyne Road
Wānaka 9305
Hours Visitor centre hours and services
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