1 Rankers Review
Wither Hills Farm Park is a popular spot for Blenheim residents to walk, jog and bike. It’s easy to understand why. For a relatively short climb there are magnificent views. This is quintessential Marlborough – grassed hills, vineyards forever and the peaks of Mount Richmond Forest Park. There’s even a view to Cloudy Bay and the sea.
Wither Hills Farm Park is 4.1 km from central Blenheim along Maxwell Road, which merges into Taylor Pass Road. The parking area is signposted to the left.
From the information kiosk near the parking area head left along Forest Hill Walk, past the replanting to the junction with the Quail Stream Walk (15 minutes). This farm road runs beside and over the mostly-dry creek for 20 minutes, to where the Rotary Lookout is signposted on the right. Toilets and drinking water area available at the junction. There’s a 20 minute uphill section which then sidles the ridge to reach a set of water tanks.
The expansive views continue all the way down the spine of the ridge to the Rotary Lookout (5 minutes) from where you can either descend via the Gentle Annie Track (less steep) or the Rotary Lookout Track (15 minutes).
The Wither Hills Farm Park has a long history of erosional problems. The loess soils are moderately fertile but impervious to moisture. When dry they are hard, but when wet they are prone to dissolve through subterranean tunnels, which cave in and start gully erosion.
All was fine before the arrival of the first pastoralists, as the silver beech forest and native greases both bound the soil and provided shelter from wind and rain. Once burning commenced and the vegetation cover was removed, the problems started. The litter disappeared and grazing hindered new growth. Lower fertility, scorched soils and the inability of plants to penetrate roots accelerated the rates of erosion. The rabbit plagues did little to help and the land rapidly became worthless. Furthermore, during storms massive quantities of debris were flushed down the valley.
In 1944 the Soil Conservation and Rivers Control Council set up a committee to address the problem. At first they removed all stock then constructed debris dams to stop the disappearance of overlying soil material. Live silt traps, plantings of buffalo grass, tree Lucerne, elm and pampas grass helped, as were groves of poplar and willow.
Later experimentation with other grass species such as rye-grass, white clover and cocksfoot aided greater soil fertility conditions and the grasses were able to establish.
South Island ▷ Marlborough ▷ Blenheim
Lovely views. Various tracks to do. Takes longer to walk to the hills from town than you think.
Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍