Rakaia Gorge walkway

Rakaia Gorge Walkway

This walking track traverses the northern edge of the Rakaia River, taking in several features of geological and historical interest.

The track initially passes through forest and shrub before climbing an historic ferryman's track. Walkers can then continue along one of several glacial and river-carved terraces to a good lookout point.

The track follows the rim of the gorge, showing lava flows of rhyolite, pitchstone and andesite. It then descends into a gully under a canopy of montane forest and shrub before passing the site of the Snowdon coal mines, where the entrances to several coal mine tunnels can be seen, as well as the remains of equipment used for extraction.

The north end of the track forms a loop, with the right hand track climbing across tussock-covered terraces to another lookout point, returning through bush.

The southern section of the walking track was declared a walkway, gazetted in April 2015, with the generous support of the land owners. Some sections of this track cross private land and visitors are asked to stick to the marked route, respect all signposted conditions of access and follow the New Zealand Outdoor Access Code.


The track starts off State Highway 72 Inland Scenic Route on the northern edge of the Rakaia River, upstream of the Rakaia Gorge Bridge. It is 75 km from Christchurch and 11 km from Methven.

Conditions and closures

To find out more about conditions of access on this walkway (eg, access with bikes, dogs or horses) and any temporary or seasonal closures, visit the Department of Conservation's website or contact the nearest Department of Conservation area office.

At a glance

Walking time: 3-4 hours return
Length: 10.4 km return
Created: 21 April 2015
Controlling authority: Department of Conservation

For more information about this walkway, visit the Rakaia Gorge Walkway page on the Department of Conservation’s website.

Photo credit: Annette Woodford