Waikari and Hawarden are the gateway to the pristine Hurunui Lakes, set in a secluded inland wilderness. Lake Sumner, Loch Katrine, Lake Sheppard, Lake Taylor and Lake Mason are excellent fishing and hunting grounds and are popular for their walking tracks and for camping in this amazing high country landscape.

Waikari Walkways

  • Village Walkway
  • Maori Rock Drawings (Weka Pass Walkway)
  • Village Green Loops
  • The Plane Table

Hurunui Lakes Area

  •  Lake Taylor to Lake Sumner
  •  Hurunui Hut and Hot Springs


Waikari Walkways

The following text has been supplied by the Hurunui Gateway Promotion Association Inc

Village Walkway

Duration of walk: 30 - 45 minutes
How to get there: Start location: on State Highway 7 opposite the Weka Pass Railway station
Intensity: DOC119b-Path-Short-walk-bw Small
Description of walk: A picturesque walkway that follows the old rail line overlooking houses on one side and rolling paddocks on the other. The 2½ km long, wide track allows for walkers of all ages and abilities to move freely.

The choice of carrying on to the Village Green walkway or returning via the footpath on Princes Street is dependent on your time frame. The loop back through the village will take approximately 30 – 45 minutes.

Stunning views of the mountains are guaranteed.

Facilities available: Within the township, near the start of the walk: public toilets, cafes, pubs, Stocks Reserve

Maori Rock Drawings (Weka Pass Walkway)

Duration of walk: 90 minutes (approx.) return 
How to get there: Approximately half way down the Village walkway is a rest stop. Take advantage of this before venturing up the hill.
Intensity: A114b-Walking-Track-bw Small
Description of walk: Follow the fence line and marked posts, until you reach the drawings. This track is steep, and not for the faint hearted, although the views and the end result are worth a little huff and puff. 
Facilities available: Sturdy shoes essential. 

Village Green Loops 

Duration of walk: varies.
How to get there: starts opposite the village walkway on Princes Street
Intensity: DOC119b-Path-Short-walk-bw Small
Description of walk: Across the road from the village walkway on Princes Street you will find the start of the course used annually for the Waikari Fun Run. There are 3 distances, 3700m, 7300m and 11300m. These tracks lead through some of the old rail line and along local roads. Stunning views along the way amongst real country life is well worth the effort. Suited to all ages, but a little more effort is required for the longer distances.

The Plane Table

Duration of walk: 15 minutes of hill climb.
How to get there: style on fence line along Village Walkway
Intensity: DOC119b-Path-Short-walk-bw Small
Description of walk: Keep walking up from the Village Walkway entrance on State Highway 7 until you come across the style on the fence line. Carry on up the track towards the water tank, there you will see one of the most spectacular views that the District has to offer. The mountains and geographical features are engraved on a plaque for easy reference
Facilities available: Within the township, near the start of the walk: public toilets, cafes, pubs, Stocks Reserve


Hurunui Lakes Area

Lake Taylor and Lake Sumner (copyright Mark Pickering)
The road to Lake Sumner is quite a trip in itself and leads to an area which has a peculiar kiwi character of it's own, with day walks, overnight huts, fishing and tramping. Vehicle and walking tracks lead upvalley to DOC huts and the natural hot springs.

Scenic Road
It is 70 km from Christchurch to the Lake Sumner turnoff at Waikari on the Lewis Pass Road. About 8 km through Waikari to Hawarden and the gravel road begins 10 km further on. The road from here is narrow and winding, and follows the historic pack-trail to the Hurunui River and Harper Pass, where thousands of hopeful "new chums" set out for the goldfields of the West Coast in 1865.

After the seal ends the road edges 9 km past the Waitohi River and makes a circuitous climb up onto Jack's Saddle (500m).

The Seaward bridge is passed after 7 km and then a further 5 km to the confluence of the two Hurunui's. This site had a grog shanty in the 1860's that kept the goldminers supplied. Another 14 km along tussock terraces, with picnic sites at the Jollie Brook and Sisters swingbridges, to Lake Taylor.

This site provided another pause for the foot-sore goldminers, and butcher stalls were established by the local run holders taking advantage of this huge influx of meat-eating travellers. Today the lakeside is quiet, and Lake Taylor hut has gone, but there is plenty of camping on the grassy flat.

Lake Taylor to Lake Sumner (copyright Mark Pickering)
A good walk from Lake Taylor (which is as far as a normal car can go) is to follow the four-wheel drive track as it leads off around the south side of the lake and travels 6km over a subtle saddle to the bach community at Loch Katrine. This is an impromptu fisherman's shanty town.

The vehicle track continues 2km past the loch, and then downhill 2km to Home Bay and the tossed shores of Lake Sumner. The lake was named after an Archbishop of Canterbury by Edward Dobson in 1857, but the Maori title Hakakura is more poetic ('haka' means hollow or bay and 'kura' means red). The French whaling captain, who was believed to be the first European to see the lake, called it the "Greenstone Lake".

The old No. 2 hut, a big 18-bunker with a fine prospect towards the lake, was burnt down in July 1996.

Walking Time: Lake Taylor return 4-6 hours

Hurunui Hut and Hot Springs
From Lake Sumner a good track heads upstream past a footbridge to the Hurunui Hut (20 people/stove). The hot spring is still 5km further and it's signposted if you stay on the track (but you could miss it if you walked up the river) and it gushes out in a hot waterfall over the track. It has been enlarged to accommodate 3-4 people comfortably.

Walking Time: Lake Sumner - Hurunui Hut - Hot Pools. Return 3-4 hours.