Black Birch Track (Ferny Gair Cons. Area, Marlborough)

  • 6 hr – 3 hr return by the same track
  • Medium

Well cut and marked track along true left of BB stream. The Marlborough Deerstalkers have taken over management of this area and hope to clear the top of the track some more in Nov, 2015.

Black Birch Biv in new location • By Honora. Licence: cc by.
Black Birch Track (Ferny Gair Cons. Area, Marlborough): Key information
Walking time
1 day
6 hr – 3 hr
Return by the same track
Return by the same track
Some steep sections and some unpleasant scrubby sections booby-trapped with boulders in the last half hour to the biv. Grades explained
No bookings — open access
No — open access
Black Birch Track (Ferny Gair Cons. Area, Marlborough): Find it
At Awatere Headworks - intake of water for residents of Awatere Valley.
Black Birch Bivvy
200m – 850m
Altitude change 650m
Black Birch Track (Ferny Gair Cons. Area, Marlborough): More information

"Negotiations around the partial  lease of Blairich Station in the Awatere Valley made public access available for the first time. The area of land which had become public did not have any access routes across it. An old track of about 6km within the reserve had also been opened up, with the help of the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, and would also be used by both cyclists and trampers".

"The area was 'land-locked' as it was surrounded by private land so previously you had to get permission from landowners, or go in by helicopter. Now there will be access to this great back country area," he said.

I was unable to find out where the public easement begins but Blairich Station and Matt at Renwick DoC can inform you (03) 572 9100. I sent Renwick DoC an email asking them to update the DoC website and this is their rationale for not updating it:

"We did not want to open this area to public until we get all work completed and signage in the ground.. for obvious reasons. I am currently still in discussion with the land owner over the wording of the signs and once that is finalized we will need to make the signs and then formally open the track and update our web site etc."

There is a marginal strip up Black Birch Stream which allows access to the broad grassy terraces downstream of the Awatere Headworks. Continue along the true left of the stream and you will see your first orange triangle. Keep on the true left of the stream and soon you will be traveling between a deeply incised ferny yazoo stream parallel to the main stream and a fenceline.

Where you enter tall kanuka forest the track is well cut and marked. There are old alloy nameplates at some small streams (Schwass, Dick and Robert are still legible).

The track then crosses a larger sidestream that was formerly bridged. From here it rises gently to cross the crest of a spur at 400m a.s.l., then drops down to cross the northern tributary of Black Birch Stream. From this point it is well marked but only lightly trimmed. It climbs steeply to Pt 835 and continues a further 500m along the ridge to the Black Birch Bivvy.

An initially benched MTB trail has recently been cut down from the ridgeline to the true left of Schwass Stream. The bottom end will be cut in the first week of December, 2015. It is currently marked with pink cruise tape.


Matt Flynn of DoC Renwick is also working on getting access via the Teme River to the north-east from the Waihopi and Avon Rivers respectively.  A reply from the Walking Access Commission's Regional Field Officer follows:

"Hi Honora, re your query about progress on working with the landowner towards access to the Ferny Gair Conservation Area, yes efforts are continuing.

Matt Flynn of the Department of Conservation South Marlborough is overseeing the issue, working towards having a gate, sign and carpark installed where a formed track no longer follows legal road. There would then be walking access from that point, up the DOC marginal strip alongside the Teme River.

Matt is working to arrange a meeting with the landowner but a date has not yet been set. He will point out that it would be to property owners’ advantage, to have people clear about where public access begins.

It could be worthwhile to get in touch with Matt ( cc-ing me in. Matt has said that the Marlborough Deerstalkers Association has written to the Marlborough District Council supporting the carpark and sign being installed and would encourage others to do the same as this would add weight to DOC’s contention that confusion about legal access needs to be cleared up for the benefit of both the public wanting access and the landholder involved".

So there ya go. Blairich Station was split 92%/8% for freehold/conservation land when the original intention of the Tenure Review process was to have approximately 50%/50% splits. I've asked Penny and cc'ed Matt to see if there is any progress on access via the Black Birch end.

ID 15897

About this track

Added 1 December 2015 by HonoraHonora. 6 revisions, most recently 21 July 2016 by HonoraHonora.
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