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Best Walks in Ashburton: Lakes, Views and a Famous Hollywood Set


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Often missed by Tekapo-bound road trippers, the Ashburton region is home to some stunning day hikes and MTB featuring endangered birds, towering mountains, braided rivers, waterfalls and lakes. Nature lovers can hike our backcountry trails in splendid solitude all day without encountering anyone else.  Here we’ve rounded up a few of the best walks and MTB TRACKS in Ashburton and the surrounding area, based on visitor recommendations and local knowledge.   

Just an hour’s drive east from the motel is the Hakatere Conservation Park located around the Ashburton Lakes between the Rakaia and Rangitata Rivers. Covering nearly 60,000 hectares of rugged mountain country, forest and sparkling rivers, the park is home to many interesting day walks and Mountain biking tracks. 

Mt Sunday, immortalised in Lord of the Rings as the fortress city of Edoras, is a gentle 90min return walk in the Hakatere area. One of the most popular things to do in Ashburton is to climb Mt Sunday.  The track is flat, except for the final 10-15 minutes before you reach the summit.  At the top (‘my precious’), you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the mountains, grazing cattle, the Rangitata river valley and the Southern divide. The kids will enjoy scuttling over cute bridges to view the opaque cascading waters below. Whether you’re a Lord of the Rings fan (or not), exploring Mt Sunday is one of the great free things to do in Ashburton.  

The Lake Heron tracks provide various options depending on your energy levels, from 1.5km up to 10km duration. Discover kettle holes, native birds and panoramic views over the lake and surrounding mountains. For a one-hour return hike, head up the Lake Hill track from the car park through tussock to the summit trig and keep an eye out for black-fronted terns, oystercatchers, Australasian grebes, ducks, swans, and skylarks. Or jump on your Mountain bike and do a loop from Castle Ridge station to lake Emily , Manuka Hut , Double Hut and finish at Lake Heron or head down The Stour River for one off the most amazing journeys and finish on The Ashburton Gorge Road 

The Lake Clearwater tracks are another easy option in providing a 10-km lakeside loop track  Lake Emma is a 13 km loop track and lake camp is a 4 km loop either walking or Mountain-biking. For the more adventurous head around the lakes northern shores up to Mystry lake or onto the TeAaroa walkway or a special walk would be to the Top off MT GUY . Check the weather forecast before heading out as with all Alpine tracks, conditions can change quickly.  

Afterwards head to the popular Staveley Store and Café, for a restorative ice cream or coffee, reputedly the best brew in the region and one of the best places to eat Ashburton - style fare. 

The Ashburton – Hakatere River Trails has tracks for walkers and mountain bikers.These much-loved tracks follows the Ashburton River and meanders from town through riverside willows . The MTB track is about 11.5 loop and the river walkway has been built to avoid collisions .Those wanting more off a rail trial type ride , we have a track down to lake hood on the South side of the Ashburton river  7km  This is a great thing to do in Ashburton   Some of this track has been washed away 

There are plenty of other wonderful walks and mountainbiking tracks within the Ashburton area . So pack your hiking shoes and MTB and come stay at the cosy Bella Vista Motel Ashburton to check out the many beautiful walks and MTB tracks in Ashburton and the-mid Canterbury region.