IntroductionTe Papanui Conservation Park protects a large remote tussock grassland area where the public can walk, mountain bike, 4WD, horse trek, cross-country ski and hunt. The 21,000 ha park is managed by DOC as a remote experience area.
Find things to do and places to stay Te Papanui Conservation Park
The formed 4WD track in Te Papanui is in good condition from the main gate to the park's highest point, Ailsa Craig. Check at the local DOC office for conditions of the rest of the track if you would like to travel further.
There are three access points.
The main access to Te Papanui Conservation Park is via the Lee Stream Outram Road (SH87), turn left at Clarke's Junction onto Old Dunstan Road. The entrance to the park is approximately 5 km past Rocklands Station. The gate to the park is locked during winter (4 June to 20 October, depending on track conditions).
A 4WD road runs through the block between Gardiners Track and Old Dunstan Road access points. This road is closed from 4 June to 20 October (depending on track conditions) or when the fire danger is extreme.
- Via the Old Dunstan Road off SH87 from Outram. The road is suitable for all vehicles to the Conservation Park gate. From there 4WD is recommended.
- Via Mahinerangi Road from Outram then Eldorado Track to the locked gate. From there, access is foot only, across Dunedin City Council Water Reserve to the Te Papanui hunting block boundary.
- Due to logging operations, there may be no access through Waipori Road/Mountain Road and Gardiners Track. The road is suitable for all vehicles to the start of Mountain Road, from there to the Conservation Park gate, 4WD is recommended.
Be prepared for muddy conditions – 4WD only
Visitors should take precautions when visiting this area – vehicles should carry a winch or some form of extraction device. Be prepared with necessary equipment for wet, muddy conditions.
Stay on the main 4WD track, there have been incidents of vehicles travelling off the track, getting stuck and needing to be towed out. This area is very sensitive and takes a long time to recover from vehicular damage.
This area supplies Dunedin's drinking water and contamination of the water supply is a serious risk to public health.
There are a lot of very flammable dry plants in Te Papanui Conservation Park.
Prevent wildfires by:
- parking where there are no plants
- driving only on the main track as marked on the map
- not lighting any fires – absolutely no fires are allowed in the park.
This will help protect Dunedin City's water supply and the park's unique nature.
Te Papanui is subject to some very rapid changes in weather. Be prepared for adverse conditions, and ensure you carry warm clothes.
Bring your own water
Drinking from the creeks in Te Papanui is not recommended as giardia is present in the area. We recommend that visitors bring their own water.
Te Papanui Conservation Park is special because it is an area of very high ecological value, protecting a large intact indigenous tussock grassland area. Tussock grasslands are becoming rare on an international level due to grazing and burning for agricultural purposes.
Te Papanui provides a home for a huge variety of native plants and animals, including 547 species of native insects, as well as the narrow-leaved snow tussock (Chionochloa rigida) and many rare wetland plants.
The park also fulfils a significant role to the people of Otago region, protecting 60% of Dunedin's water catchment area.
Te Papanui also boast outstanding landscape qualities. The area has broad peaty basins on the crests, and parallel streams dissect the slopes in a rhythmical pattern. The broad expanses of tussock grassland are relieved intermittently by bogs and tarns and there is a strong sense of remoteness.
The park was opened in 2003, and was created from existing protected areas, land purchased by the Nature Heritage Fund, and an outcome of the pastoral lease tenure review process.