Te Papanui Conservation Park

Image: John Barkla | ©


Te 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.

Place overview


  • Four wheel driving
  • Hunting

Find things to do and places to stay Te Papanui Conservation Park

About this place

Nature and conservation

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. 

History and culture

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.

Getting there

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. During the winter months (20 June to 20 October, depending on track conditions), the gate into the park is locked. 

Know before you go

Be prepared for muddy conditions - 4WD only

Visitors should take precautions when visiting this area - vehicles must 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.

No fires

Because of its extensive tussock grassland, Te Papanui is vulnerable to fires. Absolutely no fires are allowed in the park.


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.


Dunedin Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 474 3300
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   dunedinvc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   50 The Octagon
Postal Address:   PO Box 5244
Moray Place
Dunedin 9058
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