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The Emily Escapade, Canterbury

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The Emily EscapadeBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Emily Oliver

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Trail Information






Mt Somers Village

Front country - easily accessible

Point to Point (one way)

Undulating, small hills only

Open farmlands
Open tussock/grasslands

Beginner - Intermediate

5:00 (Slow)
3:30 (Moderate)
2:30 (Fast)



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A non-technical, mostly downhill rampage down the Stour River valley via Emily Hill and Lake Emily.

Starting at Lake Heron Car Park, take the 4WD track around the lake for about 2.5 km, then a well-trodden single track leads you into the valley until you get to the signposted junction with the Te Araroa Track. Turn right and follow the track, crossing the swift-flowing Swinn River north branch (seldom an issue but take care if there's been a lot of rain). Pass the turn-off to Double Hut (1 km up a side trail), then cross the south branch of the Swinn.

You're running down a valley between the Longman Range and Mt Somers Range, passing a couple of small lakes on your right. At about 13 km from the start, you'll come to the turn-off to Manuka Hut - this is only 500 m from the main track and worth a visit, especially if you need to restock water (the stream just before the hut is considered safe).

Continue south until the Te Araroa turns off to the right, with a mountain bike link track going straight ahead. Pop over Emily Hill for a great view of the valley you've just run down. Down the other side of Emily Hill, you'll find Lake Emily on your right, before meeting a 4WD track. Take this south and it turns into the Stour River Track, which you follow all the way down the valley and out to the Stour River car park.

With the gentle downhill gradient this can be good fast running, with a few crossings of the Stour thrown in to cool down on a hot day.

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Features of interest

The track follows the Stour River, which is carving its way through rhyolite bedrock, formed during volcanic eruptions. The rhyolite makes a rich soil, which supports a wide range of plants. You will see bright green patches of broadleaf/kāpuka, while the dull green, deciduous trees are mountain ribbonwood/houhi. Mountain beech/tawhairauriki is also here.

Make Up of Run

Easy Single Track: 40%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 60%

Route Data


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  • Access

    Leave Mount Somers on Ashburton Gorge Road, then turn right into Hakatere Heron Road (23 km). Start the track from Lake Heron car park, 1.7 km along the lake shore, off Hakatere Heron Road. The finish point is the Stour River car park off the Ashburton Gorge Road (keep a good eye out for this as it's not signposted off the main road and looks like a farm yard!)

    39 km

    45 minutes



  • Staying Safe



    Thermal leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    The best place to get water is the stream just before Manuka Hut. While you do cross the Stour a couple of times in the later section, drinking from this is not advised without putting it through a good filter.

    Likely to get pretty muddy in the wetter months.

    If you go off track, watch out for live ammunition. This land was once used for army training, and there may still be live ammunition lying around. If you see any suspicious items, do not handle them. If possible, note the location and inform the police as soon as possible.

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