Pisa Conservation Area
Located in the Otago region
IntroductionThe Pisa Conservation Area is 23,000 ha of stunning high country overlooking the Upper Clutha and Wakatipu basins, and beyond to the Southern Alps/Ka Tiritiri o te Moana.
Find things to do and places to stay Pisa Conservation Area
The Pisa Conservation Area covers over 23,000 hectares of spectacular sub-alpine landscape. Due to the fragile nature of the area off road vehicle users (4WD, quad bikes and motorbikes) need to complete the online access application and receive approval from DOC before accessing the Pisa Conservation Area.
Where can I drive?
Access is restricted to formed tracks on the northern part of the Pisa Conservation Area. Motorised vehicles are not permitted on the southern section below Tuohys Saddle.
When can I drive?
Public vehicle access is restricted to the drier summer periods between 1 November to 1 April but can be closed anytime within this period to avoid damage to the tracks. This can be due to safety risks, weather conditions, threats to conservation or track damage.
How do I get into the area?
There are several access routes on both the Cromwell and Cardona Valley sides of the Pisa Range, the main one being via Mt Pisa, Lowburn and Locharburn Stations on the eastern side of the range and Waiorau Station (Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds and SnowFarm NZ) in the Cardrona Valley.
There is no 'as of right' public motorised vehicle access into the conservation area as all of the suitable access tracks cross private or pastoral lease land.
Motorised vehicle access to the Pisa Conservation Area via Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds (SHPG) requires written consent. This can be in the form of an email from the landowner. SHPG requires at least 48 hours’ verbal notice prior to activities commencing for an update on track conditions. As access gates are locked on SHPG boundaries, so you will also need to call to obtain the code.
The online application for motorised vehicle access requires you to seek the landowner’s consent for entrance and exit routes.
Application for motorised vehicle access
Once your application has been processed, you will receive an email informing you of the outcome of your application. If successful, print the email document and take it with you on your trip.
Horse gates are not provided. Riders need to obtain gate keys from the landowners.
Ski touring is a popular activity during the winter months.
There are several public entry points to the Pisa Conservation Area, described on the track pages for this area.
The Pisa Range is the highest of Central Otago's fault block mountains and consists of very distinctive landforms and ecological systems.
Along the tops, remnants of the Criffel diggings; reputed to be the highest gold diggings in Otago, reveal hand dug water races, tailings and outlines of former miner’s dwellings.