Get a description and see a video of the scenic drive in Ahuriri Conservation Park offering 25 km of mountain, river, tussock, and wetland scenery.
The scenery in the Ahuriri Valley isn’t quite Lord of the Rings scenery like Isengard or Edoras, but it comes close.
The Ahuriri Conservation area is mainly a flat valley with wetlands surrounded by mountains.
The valley flanks still have large stands of remnant beech forest.
And then above the beech, there are stands of snow tussock before giving way to alpine fellfields and permanent snowfields higher up.
Common activities in the Ahuriri Valley include:
- Tramping (multi-day hiking)
- Mountain biking
- Horseback riding
- Hunting (red deer and wild goats)
- Fishing (brown and rainbow trout)
The scenic drive from the Ahuriri Conservation Park sign along State Highway 8 just north of Lindis Pass up the Ahuriri Valley to the wetlands is approximately 19 km (12 mi) in length.
Driving at about 40 km/h (25 mph), it would take approximately 30 – 40 minutes to drive up the Ahuriri Valley from State Highway 8.
You’ll get scenic views of rolling tussocklands and wetlands and will be surrounded by mountains.
The road that follows the Ahuriri River in the Ahuriri Valley is called Birchwood Road.
It is a pretty straight gravel road with a just few curves and inclines.
The gravel on this road is good enough to drive a 2WD car, but after approximately 20 km (12 mi), you must have a 4WD if you want to go further up Ahuriri Valley.
When driving along Birchwood Road you’ll also see access points to walks that will get you into the Lindis Conservation Area.
Birchwood Road and the upper Ahuriri Valley are also good for mountain biking and horseback riding.
The upper valley 4WD track leads to Canyon Creek, accessing Ahuriri Base Hut and popular fishing spots.
Beyond Canyon Creek the upper Ahuriri Valley is reserved for non-motorized access only.
Note that the Upper Ahuriri Valley 4WD road is subject to frequent washouts and temporary closures.
More information: Ahuriri Conservation Park on the Department of Conservation website.
How to get to Birchwood Road and Ahuriri Valley
Ahuriri Conservation Park is located on the South Island of New Zealand.
The quickest and easiest way to get to the South Island of New Zealand is by catching a flight to Christchurch.
From Christchurch airport, drive south in the direction of Timaru on State Highway 1.
On State Highway 1, once you’ve passed Ashburton, you’ll see a sign for Mount Cook (Aoraki) and Geraldine. Hook onto State Highway 79 to Geraldine.
Continue driving on State Highway 79 until you reach Fairlie. In Fairlie, take State Highway 8 to Mount Cook and Tekapo.
From Tekapo drive to Lake Pukaki on State Highway 8 , and then onto Twizel and Omarama.
Once you’ve passed Omarama, after approximately 17 km (10.5 mi) start looking on your right for a DOC (Department of Conservation) sign that says Ahuriri Conservation Park.
There should also be a yellow sign displaying the same text on the left side of the road at the junction of State Highway 8 with Birchwood Road.
Turn right onto Birchwood Road. The scenic drive starts at the cattle stop.
Basic info for the scenic drive from SH 8 up Ahuriri Valley
|Driving distance:||19 km (12 mi) to the Ben Avon Wetlands|
|Driving time:||30 – 40 minutes|
|Road type:||Gravel road|
|Road condition:||Very good gravel with little to no potholes for the first 20 km, then rough gravel|
|Best time to drive:||Morning|
|What you’ll see:||Mountains, tussock grass, Ahuriri River, Ben Avon Wetlands|
Click here to see a map for this scenic drive from the junction of State Highway 8 and Birchwood Road to the Ahuriri Valley.
Video of the Ahuriri Valley scenic drive New Zealand
This 3-minute video takes you on a scenic drive on Birchwood Road up Ahuriri Valley to the Ben Avon Wetlands. Along the way we’ll stop to enjoy the mountain scenery and the sounds of the Ahuriri River.
This article falls under Scenic Drives.
Note: Roads can be changed or closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.