Time: 4 to 5 hr return
Distance: 3.8 km return
For panoramic forest views over the settled areas of Oban, a tramp up Garden Mound cannot be beaten. Garden Mound escaped the early milling activity that was widespread from Port William/Potirepo to the northern coast of Paterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera. In the early 1900s, Garden Mound was a popular place for locals to visit, being one of the few areas close to the village with forest still intact and where birds were common.
Huge rimu, rātā, miro and kāmahi, along with ferns and mosses are a feature of the track, which reaches a height of 160m before dropping steadily down towards Little River. A scenic round trip is possible by returning via the Great Walk track following the coast to Lee Bay, through the chain link sculpture which marks the entrance to Rakiura National Park.
Caution – Garden Mound track is steep, slippery and muddy in places as it is a tramping track and tramping boots need to be worn.
At Halfmoon Bay, turn left to walk north past the general store. Walk along Horseshoe Bay Road for approximately an hour, until you reach the Lee Bay Road turnoff at the far end of Horseshoe Bay. The start of Garden Mound track is signposted on the left, about 10 minutes along the road to Lee Bay. Return via the coastal track to Lee Bay and follow the road back to Horseshoe Bay and on to Halfmoon Bay.
Time: 6 to 7 hr return
Distance: 9.8 km return
For those wanting to venture further afield into Rakiura National Park, Māori Beach is an excellent choice for a day walk, offering stunning scenery, plenty of local history and a taste of the Rakiura Great Walk.
Between 1913 and 1935 the Māori Beach area was a busy settlement with a school, along with several houses for workers from the Māori Beach Sawmilling Company. After the mill closed in 1931, the last operating mill on Stewart Island/Rakiura, people gradually drifted away. Today the area is peaceful and picturesque, with regenerating forest quickly hiding evidence of those earlier days. However, remains of a boiler and steam engine used by the mill can still be found, along with clumps of montbretia and daffodil – legacies from the sawmillers’ cottages.
Stewart Island/Rakiura is accessed by plane from Invercargill or by ferry from Bluff.
Auckland and parts of the Waikato are at Level 3. DOC huts and campsites are closed in these regions. The rest of New Zealand is at Level 2.