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Clarence Reserve 4WD open weekends begin

Media release

8 January 2013

Clarence Reserve 4WD open weekends begin

For the last four years, four-wheel drive enthusiasts from as far away as Germany have taken up the opportunity to travel through the spectacular high country Clarence Reserve near Kaikoura. This scenic and remote part of the Ka Whata Tu O Rakahouia Conservation Park is open to members of the public for the next 5 weekends.

“The Clarence Valley offers spectacular views and amazing rock formations but the 4WD road is challenging even at the best of times” says Department of Conservation Ranger Shelly Sidley . "But for those who enjoy a good driving challenge, the incredible vistas, craggy slopes, pinnacles, alpine plant communities and the raging Clarence River make it an opportunity not to be missed."

The weekends the reserve will be open for 4WD access are 11-13 January, 18 -20 January, 25-27 January, 1-3 February and 8-10 February weather permitting. Gates are open from 12pm – 5pm on Friday and 8am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Normally you would require a sturdy 4WD and the skills and confidence to tackle steep and narrow roads and tough river crossings, to be able to take advantage of these open weekends. But for those people without a vehicle, there is another option. Experienced local Kaikoura guide and driver Karl Townsend and his unimog will be available to passengers for $75 per person.

An alternative is to tag along with the Marlborough 4WD Club on the 26 and 27January. They have spaces in their vehicles for passengers to ride along.

“By hitching a ride with the 4WD club, people can enjoy the incredible vistas, craggy slopes, pinnacles, and the raging Clarence River without having to drive in or even own a 4WD.”

Alternatively, for those interested in the thrills of a good driving challenge and but would like the piece of mind of that comes with travelling as part of an organized group, the 4WD club is inviting 4WD vehicle owners to join in on their convoy.

Drivers must register before entering. Vehicles must be warranted and registered four-wheel drives. Chains are recommended. Motorbikes can also be ridden and must be registered and warranted. To book a seat with the Karl Townsend or the Marlborough 4WD Club, contact the Department of Conservation on 03 572 9100. Seats are limited.

DOC staff monitor weather closely prior to each scheduled 4WD weekend to determine whether it can go ahead or if the forecast weather conditions will warrant closure of the access road. People planning to make the trip can check if it is on by calling the DOC South Marlborough Office on 03 572 9100 a day or two beforehand.

There are several huts within the reserve, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping is also available. Hunting is not permitted during 4WD weekends.

Further information can be obtained by contacting the DOC South Marlborough Area Office, ph (03) 572 9100 or from the DOC website www.doc.govt.nz.


Background information

The Clarence Reserve area protects some of the highest mountains in New Zealand outside the Southern Alps. The area is of national significance geologically. Due to its relatively dry climate, the area escaped extensive glaciations during the Ice Age. Instead of glacial features, landforms above the original bush line are a result of mass movement of rock and debris. In places, it seems the very bones of the mountains are revealed — chalky white outcrops of limestone, contrasting vividly with deep-red remnants of ancient underground volcanic activity.

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