Wither Hills Walking Tracks

21/12/2014

The Wither Hills Farm Park to the south of Blenheim has an extensive network of walking tracks suitable for a range of fitness levels and durations ranging from about 20 minutes up to several hours.

There are a number of points of access to the park, each offering different walking opportunities.

Redwood Street Entrance

Off the southern end of Redwood Street there is a signposted car park which provides several walking options.

The Sutherland Stream track is relatively flat and follows the valley floor south from the car park until a drinking fountain and footbridge where the track divides and offers two steep zig-zag trags that climb to the Vernon Lookout, while continuing up the valley, the track climbs out of the valley and provides a route to connect with the western entrance of the park. The initial part of the track passes through exotic vegetation, before entering a Queen Elizabeth II Covanent area which is mostly regenerating native vegetation such as cabbage trees, flax and other species.

Climbing east from the car park is a steeper route that climbs directly and follows a spur up to the Vernon Lookout. This requires better fitness than the valley route, however offers good views of Cloudy Bay and Port Underwood, and on a clear day the North Island, from quite early in the walk.

Rather than climbing the spur, it is also possible to follow a farm track that follows the contours of the hills to Cob Cottage Road in Riverlands.

From the car park, it is also possible to follow the Sutherland Stream walkway north.

Redwood Street offers another entrance to the park about 50m further north on the west side of the road. This entrance follows a farm track which connects with the Quail Stream entrance to the park at the end of Forest Park Drive. This track is relatively flat, however climbs reasonably steeply over about a 50m section of the track just before descending to the Forest Park Drive car park. At the highest point it is possible to take a track down a heavily planted spur to Harling Park.

Weld Street Entrance

Although no car parking is provided, at the south end of Weld Street a gate provides access to the park part way along the farm track that connects the Redwood Street and Forest Park Drive entrances.  This provides a good opportunity to walk a loop, following the track west and descending to Harling Park via the Lower Harling Track, and exiting Harling Park either via Solwy Drive or through the grounds of Witherlea School.

This entrance is also near the start of the Reservoir Ridge Track, a steep route that climbs rapidly, quickly offering excellent views of Blenheim, but demanding a good level of fitness.

Forest Park Drive Entrance

The Forest Park Drive car park provides a central point to access the park. It is possible to take the track east to Redwood Street already mentioned, or follow Quail Stream south. The Forest Hills track is a flat track that passes through eucalypts and acacia takes a westerly route to connect with the Rifel Range Place entrance off Taylor Pass Road.

The Quail Stream track is flat initially, but at the end of the track offers the opportunity to climb to form a loop with the tracks that start from the Rowan Place park entrance. The track passes through a variety of exotic tree plantings including pine, willow, acacia and more.

Rifle Range Place Entrance

The Rifle Range Place car park off Taylor Pass Road is the primary entrance to the farm park. It has a large car park, and although the entrance has moved slightly due to residential development, it was the original entrance to be developed.

The Rotary Lookout track provides an intially moderately steep, followed by moderate gradient for a short walk to the popular 'witches hat' Rotary Lookout. The track begins amongst trees, but quickly climbs to open pasture, offering good views over Blenheim.

The Gentle Annie Track offers an alternative track to the Rotary Lookout, following a valley forested mostly with pine trees. The track zig-zags numerous times to keep the gradient modest.

The Gentle Annie and Rotary Lookout tracks can easily be combined to provide an easy look track.

From the Rotary Lookout, the somewhat steeper Twin Tanks Walk continues to two water tanks as the name implies. From there it is possible to either to descend to the Quail Stream track, or continue along the Taylor View Track.

Map of Wither Hills Farm Park (MDC) * Link opens in new window