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Nature & Wildlife

Pelorus River scenic reserve things to do

  • 3 minutes

Marlborough, South Island

Walks, camping, Pelorus bats, and cafe

Discover enchantment. A pocket sized reserve of original river flat podocarp forest harking back to a period before people. The Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve offers visitors the opportunity to relax and enjoy forest and river scenery. Jump into the crystal green water of the Pelorus River and walk the Nydia track. A truly beautiful part of Marlborough with an accessible river gorge surrounded by ancient forest. “Pelorus Bridge is a tiny locality in Marlborough, New Zealand where the Rai River meets Pelorus River. State Highway 6 crosses the Pelorus River at Pelorus.” Pelorus Bridge – Wikipedia

Pelorus River, New Zealand
Pelorus River

Pelorus River top sights

  • A crystal clear river with deep pools for swimming. The location was the movie set for the dwarves-in-barrels scene from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
  • Easy walks, wheelchair accessible suitable for all fitness levels
  • Waterfalls and stunning natural scenery
  • Lace the tramping boots and walk up to spectacular views from the ridgeline at 417 metres
  • Observe long tailed endangered bats at twilight

A glorious story of Pippin, a dog who ‘tramps.’ Fascinating is the story of aversion training for dogs to ensure that ground loving birds are not disturbed by dogs in their territory.

‘Hidden within the South Island sections of the Te Araroa Trail are some stunning river valleys and alpine tracks that allow dogs, discovers Sarah Fyfe. The 110km section of the Te Araroa Trail that runs beside the Pelorus River, over the Richmond Range to St Arnaud is special to me… In preparing for our tramps, Pippin has undertaken avian aversion training. This teaches dogs to avoid ground-dwelling birds such as kiwi, blue penguins and weka. DOC organises this, it’s free and available a couple of times a year in conservation areas all over the country. I wanted to deter Pip from bothering the many families of weka whose home is this part of Te Araroa’ … read more Dog-gone days on the Pelorus Track – Wilderness Magazine.

Pelorus River long tailed bats

The Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve is home to one of the last remaining populations of long tailed bats in Marlborough.On warm evenings, they might be seen flying in the twilight, high in the forest canopy or along the river. Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve long tailed bats, or pekapeka are the focus of the Te Hoiere Bat Recovery Project, a Forest & Bird initiative, aims to protect the bat population re-discovered in 2005. Chestnut brown with small ears and a long tail, long-tailed bats weigh about 8 to 11 grams and roost in tree hollows and caves. The bats are endangered due to rat infestations… read more Forest and Bird Top of the South Bat Recovery project.

Rai river swing bridge over the Rai river below, at Pelorus, Marlborough, New Zealand.
Rai river swing bridge over the Rai river below, at Pelorus, Marlborough

Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve offers numerous tracks, taking you through ancient forest and to the edge of the gorgeous Pelorus River. Enjoy the Rai suspension bridge leading to forest walks.


Insect repellent in warmer months is recommended. Sand flies, tiny soundless torture bites are very itchey. Carry anti-itch lotion as a backup.

Beautiful green and clear pelorus river, known from the movie hobit. South Island, New Zealand
Pelorus River
  • Tawa Walk | 30 min loop easy walk through native forest to explore ancient river terraces.
  • Totara Walk | 30 min to view forest giants, the magnificent totara trees
  • River Access | 5 min walk
  • Circle Walk | 45 min loop and wheelchair access to the swing bridge. There are photogenic locations to capture the beauty of the Pelorus River.
  • Daltons Track | 3 hr loop track, part of the Te Araroa Trail, follows the river across farmland.
  • Elvy Waterfalls Track | 2 hr loop to view waterfalls. Stream crossings are required.
  • Trig K Track | 4 hr return to an altitude of 417 metres

For track details check the travel pack section for the Department of Conservation brochure on walking conditions.


Pelorus River where to stay

Pelorus River campground

Camp on the banks of the Te Hoiere/Pelorus River amongst towering kahikatea, beech and rimu trees. Walk, swim, fish, kayak, relax.

  • Serviced
  • Bookings required
  • 40 non-powered sites
  • 14 powered sites
  • No dogs

For bookings Pelorus Bridge (Kahikatea Flat) Campground.

Where to eat & drink Pelorus River scenic reserve

Pelorus Bridge Cafe offers a welcome break and a chance to relax in a forest setting. Wild pork, kumara and apple pies are a local favourite.

Getting to Pelorus River scenic reserve

Travelling between Blenheim (Picton) to Nelson on New Zealand’s state highway 62 you will pass a magical place where nature has created the perfect pit stop to relax into the holiday mode. The small reserve is between Havelock and the Rai Valley.


Travel pack information


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