Rock tors above Big Top Hut
Image: John Barkla | DOC
The Old Dunstan Road is closed in winter (1 June to 1 October).
The Rock and Pillar Conservation Area, little more than an hour's drive from Dunedin, is one of Otago's most distinctive upland features; its summit ridge dominated by impressive schist tors or rocky pillars.
The routes described here are for visitors who are both experienced and at least moderately fit.
There are two access routes from the Old Dunstan Road. The Old Dunstan Road is closed in winter (1 June to 1 October) but the rest of the year is open to 2WD vehicles.
The relevant topographical maps for the area are: NZTopo50 series, Sheets CD15 Paerau and CD16 Middlemarch.
Time: 2 hrs 15 min
Distance: 5 km to conservation area boundary
Car park is signposted on SH87, 22 km north of Middlemarch. To reach the marked route, turn left at the second stile and follow the markers to the conservation boundary.
Time: 2 hr
Distance: 4.6 km to the conservation area boundary
Parking and toilet facilities are by the Otago Central Rail Trail at the intersection of SH87 and Ngapuna Road, midway between Middlemarch and Hyde. Follow the trail north for 100 m before reaching the beginning of the route.
Time: 3 hr, 1 hr 30 min to conservation area boundary
Distance: 9.1 km to summit
Seasonal restrictions: This track goes through a working deer farm with new-born deer present from mid-November to mid-December. During this period hinds may pose a danger to people – use alternative access to the Rock and Pillar Conservation Area at this time.
4WD and mountain biking are permitted. Access and parking is at Kilmory Station, 20 m south of Lug Creek. Because of the fragile environment, vehicles and mountain bikes must keep to the track.
Time: 15 min
Distance: 1.2 km to the conservation area boundary
Signposted from SH87 (Wandle Road), near the McKinnon Road junction, 2WD access to the parking area is through cattle stops on private property. Park at the car park and walk the marked route to the conservation boundary.
Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 3.7 km to conservation area boundary
Access is from Gladbrook Road near March Creek. Cross the stile and follow the markers to the conservation boundary.
Time: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 4.3 km to conservation area boundary
The parking area and route are reached through a farm gate by turning left at the end of Rock Road. Follow the marked route along the fence line to the conservation boundary.
Time: 2 hr
Distance: 5.7 km to conservation area boundary
Access is through private property near the southern end of Gladbrook Road. It is signposted, with markers to the conservation area boundary. Note: The track is closed for lambing 1 September-31 October.
300 m north of McPhees Creek ford on Old Dunstan Road, a 4WD track leads to McPhees Rock and on to the summit. This track crosses private land to the conservation boundary, respect the landowner's property. Because of the fragile environment, vehicles and mountain bikes must keep to the track.
Steep, rolling tussock land with views overlooking the Maniototo Plains. Access is from the car park south of Waipiata, via Orangapai Road and Hamilton Diggings Road. The track is open to vehicles from 1 November-1 May. To access by 4WD or on horseback, you need the combination for the lock on both gates at either end of the 4WD track. This can be obtained from the DOC office in Alexandra.
Time: 1 hr return
Walk a loop track around Sutton Salt Lake - New Zealand's only inland salt lake.
Weather: The Rock and Pillar Conservation Area is very exposed. Wintery conditions can occur at any time of the year, and the area is subject to snow, expecially during winter.
Leaning Lodge Hut is closed until further notice. For further information contact the Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.