There was re­ally only was one word to de­scribe the Methven Lions Club’s Glen­fal­loch to Lake Heron 4WD Sa­fari this year, magic!

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story & pho­tos by Bon­nie Ede

For a short time while I was liv­ing in Methven I drove the Black­ford/ Dou­ble Hill Run road on what seemed like at least a weekly ba­sis for work or plea­sure and I have to ad­mit, I took it for granted. But see­ing peo­ple stop­ping on the side of the road hav­ing lunch, tak­ing pho­to­graphs and point­ing at the scenery, pre­sum­ably see­ing it for the first time on the Methven Lions Club Glen­fal­loch to Lake Heron 4WD Sa­fari added a touch of en­chant­ment that I was not ex­pect­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially only min­utes past the first check point. I ar­rived at the first check­point on Black­ford Road at 11am where the friendly chaps told me they had seen around 250 ve­hi­cles pass since the 8am start, say­ing most peo­ple were out for a good old fash­ioned Sunday drive.

Wor­thy causes

In all, the trip would see ap­prox­i­mately 370 ve­hi­cles pass through the gates, rais­ing ap­prox­i­mately $ 18,000 for Lions Club projects in the Methven district and do­na­tions to Methven Search and Res­cue, the Rakaia Gorge ru­ral fire unit for first aid equip­ment and the Al­ford For­est Ru­ral Fire Unit for a de­fib­ril­la­tor. We paid our en­try fee and re­ceived a map show­ing the trip and all the sta­tions we were to pass by, in­clud­ing a brief his­tory of own­er­ship of the runs in the up­per Rakaia Gorge. Glen­fal­loch and Lake Heron Sta­tions are cur­rently owned by the Tod­hunter fam­i­lies and con­sist of ap­prox­i­mately 10,900 and 20,000 hectares, and sit at the head of the Rakaia and Ash­bur­ton Gorges re­spec­tively. The track through the sta­tions is very well main­tained and a credit to their ef­forts.

Gate­way to the Gorges

An hour fur­ther on from check­ing in were the Glen­fal­loch yards and the gate­way to the ‘Gorges’ trip. Many par­tic­i­pants were parked up en­joy­ing the sausage siz­zle and light re­fresh­ments on of­fer which sold out, while oth­ers chose to enjoy a pic­nic lunch in what can only be de­scribed as spec­tac­u­lar sur­round­ings with rugged hills and the glaciated moun­tains of the Ar­row­smith Range and South­ern Alps be­yond. Head­ing through the gates we were led through a swampy area be­tween the Palmer Range and The Whale­back be­fore crossing a scree slope which brought you face to face with a jagged glaciated peak be­fore round­ing the cor­ner to fol­low Lake Stream. The track hugged the sides of the Palmer Range and crossed many feeder streams mak­ing their way across or along the road as they pleased. Over the wa­ters of Lake Stream you set­tled into views of the bush clad creeks rolling gen­tly off Teddy’s and Cas­cade hills, and the pic­turesque Downs Hut nes­tled be­neath in a clear­ing. It was roughly here that I en­coun­tered a fam­ily who had suf­fered the mis­for­tune of punc­tur­ing a left front tyre. Af­ter check­ing they were OK I re­alised it all seemed to

be part of the fun of their jour­ney, and it re­ally was a trip in which you could cre­ate your own per­sonal lit tle ad­ven­ture bub­ble. Some found it quite in­trepid, while oth­ers, like my­self, saw it more as a wind down re­lax­ing and rather fun trip.


Run as a self- drive sa­fari rather than a tag-along it meant you could set your own pace, take pho­tos at your leisure, pull over and es­cape the dust, or enjoy a pic­nic af­ter­noon tea and a dip in the river for the kids on the flats. The track was well marked thanks to Ash­bur­ton Prop­erty Bro­kers real es­tate pro­vid­ing di­rec­tional arrows at in­ter­sec­tions, and vol­un­teers from the Methven Lions Club and Search and Res­cue man­ning check­points along the way. Af­ter a lit tle while we rounded Shaggy Hill, and Mt Su­gar­loaf, which sits on the mar­gins of Lake Heron, popped into view sig­nalling the trip was draw­ing to a close. A short drive through the Smite River was the last and most chal­leng­ing ob­sta­cle of the day. There was one en­try and exit that might have caught the odd bumper but on a whole the river crossing was well marked and hard packed mak­ing for easy and en­joy­able driv­ing. Too easy and en­joy­able in fact, as I went a tad fast giv­ing my­self a lovely shower in the re­fresh­ing wa­ter com­ing through the win­dow.

Cool dip

A cool dip on a hot day af­ter an ex­cel­lent ad­ven­ture was just the ic­ing on the cake, and I couldn’t help but smile at my lit tle faux-pas. We emerged shortly af­ter at the yards of Lake Heron Sta­tion and joined the Hakatere Heron Road. A few stopped on the shores of the lake for an af­ter­noon re­fresh­ment, pad­dle or fish, while oth­ers car­ried on down the road past the Maori Lakes and to the junc­tion with the main road tak­ing us back to Mt Somers. It was great to see such a wide va­ri­ety of ve­hi­cles and range of peo­ple take part in the trip. The camaraderie amongst the par­tic­i­pants was ex­cel­lent with most happy to stop and have a chat, while oth­ers is­sued a friendly wave or thumbs up as they passed.

Thanks guys!

Thanks must go to the vol­un­teers, or­gan­is­ers and spon­sors of the trip and the sta­tion own­ers for al­low­ing us ac­cess to their land. If you ever see this trip come up again take the time and go, it’s well worth the en­try fee and you know you’ll be do­nat­ing to a good cause. The scenery is quin­tes­sen­tial New Zealand high coun­try and the road is great to travel, you al­most want to turn around and do it all over again. Which I would ab­so­lutely do in a heart­beat!

Rakaia River look­ing glacier blue from Black­ford Road.

Sharp scree slope and glaciers at the con­flu­ence of the Rakaia River and Lake Stream.


Lake Heron with Su­gar­loaf on the right.

Bush and streams were plen­ti­ful on the Glen­fal­loch side of the trip.

Downs Hut nes­tles in across Lake Stream.

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