The Clarence Valley has a long history of European occupation. Sheep stations were first established in the 1860s, but have always been difficult enterprises due to the rugged and dry land and poor access. Streams in the Clarence watershed are often deeply eroded, while elsewhere thick scrub and matagouri hampers progress. Only a few small pockets of beech and podocarp forest remain, and the climate is drier than on the eastern slopes of the Seaward Kaikōura Range.
Many of the earliest ascents of Tapuae-o-Uenuku and Alarm on the Inland Kaikōura Range were from the Clarence, but as the Awatere Valley opened up the Hodder River approach became the usual access. Nevertheless, the Clarence approach has a unique remote charm and spectacular land forms.
Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence Conservation Park straddles the Seaward Kaikōura Range and includes the eastern side of the Inland Kaikōura Range.
Lower Waiau Toa Clarence
The George Stream, Miller Stream and Wharekiri Stream tributaries of the lower Clarence provide access to the northernmost part of the Seaward Kaikōura Range. The Miller Stream catchment contains some of the best remaining podocarp and beech forests in the range. The Glen Alton bridge between Clarence Valley Rd and Waiautoa Rd was destroyed in the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. As at early 2019, there are no plans to replace it. Consequently, all access is now via Waipapa Road. Please seek permission to cross Middle Hill Station and Glen Alton Station.
Blind Saddle Road and southern bank of Waiau Toa Clarence
A rough 4WD road from the Kahutara River bridge on State Highway 70 goes over Bushy Saddle and Blind Saddle, crossing the southern part of the Seaward Kaikōura Range. It is 30 km to the historic Quail Flat homestead buildings and a further 25 km to the road end at Stony Flat/Fidget Stream. Access by horse, foot and mountainbike is permitted, and vehicle access is sometimes allowed by DOC. It is possible to climb to peaks on the range from the Limestone Stream and Dubious Stream tributaries, but this is very remote country.
For more information, see:
- Barry Dunnett’s Kaikoura Walks and Climbs: https://tepuna.on.worldcat.org/oclc/156001724
- See http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-visit/marlborough/south-marlborough/ka-whata-tu-o-rakihouia-clarence
Bluff Station, Muzzle Station and northern bank of Waiau Toa Clarence
Access is by private 4WD road from Kekerengu on State Highway 1 and permission must be obtained from all landowners.