Tui Adventures (day trips)
Green Heart and Domain walks
There are a number of wonderful well formed trails around Tuatapere and these are all signposted with Tui Trail Signs. Just follow the signs and you can spend from 5 minutes to several hours around the town on beautiful bush walks. What follows is just a taste of what can be found so explore!
Green Heart. ½ hour walk along formed tracks to partially formed trails beginning in the centre of Tuatapere opposite the Yesteryears café.
For Domain walks, walk to the end of ferry rd. Follow walkway sign to bridge and cross the bridge turning right on the west bank and follow trails along the river bank to the sports ground. Trails in the bush are signposted. A much longer walk can be made by continuing past the big totara trees on a trail that will lead you all the way to the Tuatapere cemetery. Return the same way or via the main road. Up to two hours return.
You can drive into the domain via Elder Drive. Alternative walking access is via Erskine or Morton streets.
Alton Terrace walk. Stroll down Sneyd street. Turn right at the end of the street, a path leads to the river bank. A large shingle island in the middle of the river is the roosting place for thousands of black-billed gulls who gather here every night. Follow this path along the river bank and return along ferry road or continue to the bridge and then the Domain or join the Green Heart track to Birch st (cross the Bridge road but not the bridge and find a path in the trees on the top of the bank) and return via the stream walk (King St).
Follow Papatotara road and the Humpridge track signs to Bluecliffs Beach at the Rowallan Stream. Go down the closed road (its OK). A wild rocky beach in one direction, but if you travel east (left looking at the sea) the beach becomes sandy past the mouth of the Rowallan Stream.
Directly out from the Rowallan stream large Mussel beds are exposed at low tide and a good feed can be gathered in minutes. There is a large flat area in front of the dunes covered in driftwood and a good fire can be lit here for those who want to hang out around a fire on a Southern night. Fires on the beach are permitted unless a fire ban is in place, but please take care and extinguish fully before you leave. You can walk for many miles along this beach in any direction and often see no-one else.
A similar experience can be had at the mouth of the Waiau River. Take the same turn out of town as the Humpridge track but keep on straight to the coast instead of turning right at the Hump track sign halfway down Papatotara road.
It is a pleasant 2 hr walk in either direction but unless you take your bike you will need to locate a vehicle at the other end to enable your return to the start. Can only be walked either side of low tide.
Travel 15 minutes South on Highway 99 to Gemstone beach. So named because real gemstones can be found here especially in the creek bed 2 minutes up the beach from the car park. A 20-30 minute walk south (left looking at the sea) will bring you to an obvious vehicle ramp which will, in turn, take you up a gravel road to the Orepuki beach café. Well worth the walk. Further south along this beach toward Monkey Island, if the conditions are right, real gold flakes can be found in the riffles in the sand. Hectors dolphins and Southern Right whales can sometimes be seen from the beach.
Clifden Caves/Suspension Bridge
10 minutes North of Tuatapere on the Southern scenic route (highway 99) is the Historic Clifden Suspension Bridge. An interesting scenic stop with a coffee cart and jetboat ride available from the nicest people on earth (Johan and Joyce) to make it that much better.
2 minutes further on, just past the turnoff to Te Anau (don’t take the turn off) you will find Gorge road and the Clifden caves (signposted). 1-2 hours can be spent scrambling through the caves on a self- guided experience. Take plenty of torches and only proceed if no water is flowing in the entrance to the caves.
This is an exciting adventure without needing any technical skill,
just follow the reflective markers.
Just before the exit of the cave there is a large pothole in a shaft full of water, this can be crossed via a small ledge on the left-hand side just under the water level. A little scary but easily enough done. The worst that can happen is you fall in and get wet, but daylight is only a few meters further on and it is only 200 meters back to your car so don’t be a wuss.
Lake Hauroko-Lookout-jetty-Jetboat Trip
Just before the Clifden bridge (coming from Tuatapere) you will find the turn off to lake Hauroko.A pleasant drive through the Lillburn valley and over a low saddle in the bush will bring you to the very
picturesque Lake Hauroko. A 3 hour return signposted trail heads around the lakeshore to your right and then climbs a bushy ridge to a
rock outcrop that gives a fantastic view over the lower reaches of the lake, the princess mountains, western Southland and the south coast.
If walked later in the day the sunset can be especially beautiful from up here and the possibility of seeing the Aurora Australias is good if conditions permit. A return trip in the dark needs care and a good head torch.
Visiting the lake at night can be an especially moving experience due to the intense stillness and the deep thick bush that surrounds this New Zealand's deepest lake. This is a lake with undeniable spiritual value.
If you take a strong light and a piece of meat many large eels can be encouraged to swim around the jetty and provide you with an eerie yet awesome experience.
The highly recommended Wairaurahiri Jet tour leaves from this jetty as does the Lake Hauroko Tours launch. Both of which need to be booked in advance by contacting Johan or Joyce at
Big Totara Reserve
On the road into Lake Hauroko turn right onto Motu road and follow to the very end where there is a signposted 20-minute walk through the beautiful bush to some very old Halls Totara. This is a pleasant and easy walk.
Take the road south toward Riverton/Invercargill. Approximately 20 minutes south you will find the turn off to Cosy Nook. This is a beautiful cove that is worth exploring.
Wakapatu beach can be reached by following the roads around from cosy nook but is better reached by returning to the main road and then turning off at the signposted turn to Wakapatu beach. Wakapatu offers many options for long beach walks in a large sheltered bay. Rock pools abound at the southern end and many interesting shells etc can be found along its length. At the northern reaches of the bay climb the dunes to obtain a view of Lake George.
There are interesting information panels near the turnoff to Wakapatu telling the story of the gold mining history of the area.
Te Waewae Lagoon
Head South from Tuatapere and turn right onto fishing camp road 5 minutes out of Town. At the end of the road lies the Te Waewae Lagoon a natural lagoon of the Waiau river. Alongside this lagoon are a series of manmade ponds designed and built by Ngai Tahu to enable whitebait to breed successfully. An information panel can be found by a gate on your right at the bottom of the hill and the gravel roads through the ponds can be followed on foot with an abundance of birdlife to be seen here.
A great spot for the photographer, many hours can be spent wandering around observing the wildlife especially early or late in the day. To access the boulder bank on the seaward side of the lagoon travel south on SH99 to McCrackens rest and walk up the beach for 15 minutes. This will bring you to the top end of the lagoon.
Old Coast Road
Beginning at the Waiau Mouth the old Papatotara Coast road can still be walked or cycled. Essentially it is the beach but it was the actual road for many years. First of all as the access to port craig in the early 1900’s and then continuing to be the access to the forests west of Tuatapere. Erosion eventually meant the road was rerouted inland to its present location, but for 2-3 hours either side of high tide you can still be a pioneer and walk the old coast road.
In simple terms travel west along the beach from the road closed sign at the road end at Waiau mouth as far as you feel able with exits from the beach at the Rowallan Stream (2 hours), Rarakau (3 hours) and Waikaou river mouth (4 hours). Return along the existing road. Times are from the Waiau Mouth and are only an approximate guide as everyone has their own pace on a beach. Be aware erosion and storms can change the beach significantly. Give yourself plenty of time and start on an outgoing tide.
The road from Rarakau to the Wiakaou river is a private road and is only really for 4wd vehicles. A $5 payment at the gate keeps this road maintained. There is a stream to ford and the road surface is quite rough in places. It takes up to an hour to drive this 20km section, almost as long as it takes to walk the beach.
The exit to Rarakau is up to the old road cutting that is obvious just to the east of the large cliffs. There is a carpark here at the start of the South Coast track. You can walk back along the South Coast track from the Waikaou river to Rarakau by crossing the swingbridge over the Waikaou river. The track climbs the cliff and avoids the tide.
It pays to drop a vehicle at your proposed exit as the return journey is a long road. The beach can be cycled when the hard sand is exposed at low tide for most of its length with the occasional rocky section or river crossing to negotiate. The ride home along the current road can be ridden at your leisure with no worries about the tide.
The South Coast Track/Te Waewea bay
Full Day walk
Follow the signs to the Humpridge track and park at the car park provided at Rarakau. The South Coast track and the Humpridge track follow the same path through the bush to the mouth of the Waikaou river and along the beautiful beach past the many holiday cribs until entering the bush again at the track burn. Car park to track burn 1 and ½-2 hours. Another hour through the bush will take you past the Hump Ridge turn off and down onto a series of beautiful coves and beaches the largest of which is Blowholes beach with its reef and lagoon and rock pools. A full day can be made of this trip with lunch at Blowholes beach and return to your car or even an overnight camp if you have a tent. Carry plenty of water and insect repellent although Water can be found at the next cove past blowholes at the breakneck creek.
The South Coast Track is a multi-day return trip to Westies hut with stops at Port Craig,Waitutu lodge and Waitutu Hut. Hut passes to be obtained from DOC and Waitutu lodge.
The Hump Ridge track is privately owned by Tuatapere and must be booked in advance from the Track office.