Rock and Pillar Tracks

Track category

Route

Description

The Rock and Pillar Conservation Area, little more than an hour's drive from Dunedin, is one of Otago's most distinctive upland features; its summit ridge dominated by impressive schist tors or rocky pillars.

The routes described here are for visitors who are both experienced and at least moderately fit.

There are  two access routes from the Old Dunstan Road. The Old Dunstan Road is closed in winter (1 June to 1 October) but the rest of the year is open to 2WD vehicles.

The relevant topographical maps for the area are: NZTopo50 series, Sheets CD15 Paerau and CD16 Middlemarch.

1. State Highway 87, 22 km north of Middlemarch

2 hrs 15 min, 5 km to conservation area boundary

Rock tors and hebe on the Rock and Pillar Range. Photo: J Barkla.
Rock tors and hebe on the Rock and
Pillar Range.

Car park is signposted on SH87, 22 km north of Middlemarch. To reach the marked route, turn left at the second stile and follow the markers to the conservation boundary.

2. State Highway 87 / Ngapuna Road intersection

2 hr, 4.6 km to the conservation area boundary

Parking and toilet facilities are by the Otago Central Rail Trail at the intersection of SH87 and Ngapuna Road, midway between Middlemarch and Hyde. Follow the trail north for 100 metres before reaching the beginning of the route.

3. State Highway 87, 9 km north of Middlemarch

3 hr, 9.1km to summit (on foot);
(1 hr 30 min to the conservation area boundary) 

4WD and mountain biking are permitted. Access and parking is at Kilmory Station, 20 metres south of Lug Creek. Because of the fragile environment, vehicles and mountain bikes must keep to the track.

4. State Highway 87, 5 km north of Middlemarch

15 min, 1.2 km to the conservation area boundary

Signposted from SH87 (Wandle Road), near the McKinnon Road junction, 2WD access to the parking area is through cattle stops on private property. Park at the car park and walk the marked route to the conservation boundary.

5. Gladbrook Road, northern end

1 hr 30 min, 3.7 km to conservation area boundary

Access is from Gladbrook Road near March Creek. Cross the stile and follow the markers to the conservation boundary.

6. Rock Road off Gladbrook Road

1 hr 30 min, 4.3 km to conservation area boundary

The parking area and route are reached through a farm gate by turning left at the end of Rock Road. Follow the marked route along the fence line to the conservation boundary.

7. Gladbrook Road southern end

2 hr, 5.7 km to conservation area boundary

Access is through private property near the southern end of Gladbrook Road. It is signposted, with markers to the conservation area boundary. Note: The track is closed for lambing 1 September-31 October.

8. Old Dunstan Road at Loganburn Reservoir

From Old Dunstan Road access is at a stile adjacent to the Loganburn Reservoir. 

9. Old Dunstan Road via McPhees Rock

300 metres north of McPhees Creek ford on Old Dunstan Road, a 4WD track leads to McPhees Rock and on to the summit. This track crosses private land to the conservation boundary, please respect the landowner's property. Because of the fragile environment, vehicles and mountain bikes must keep to the track.

10. Western Rock and Pillar Conservation Area

Steep, rolling tussock land with views overlooking the Maniototo Plains. Access is from the car park south of Waipiata, via Orangapai Road and Hamilton Diggings Road. The track is open to vehicles from 1 November-1 May. To access by 4WD or on horseback, you need the combination for the lock on both gates at either end of the 4WD track. This can be obtained from the DOC office in Alexandra.

11. Sutton Salt Lake

1 hr return

Sutton Salt Lake is New Zealand's only inland salt lake. The car park is off Kidds Road.


Related link

Tracks in the Rock and Pillar Conservation Area brochure (PDF, 1,450K)

Plan and prepare

The Rock and Pillar Conservation Area is very exposed. Wintery conditions can occur at any time of the year, and the area is subject to snow, expecially during winter.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

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