skip to Main Content

Sanctuary walks and facilities – find out more at the Visitor Centre

Your Hidden Valleys Waimārama adventure starts at the Visitor Centre where our knowledgeable and friendly staff and volunteers will introduce you to our walks and facilities, and then will help you on your way with suggestions based on your available time or fitness constraints. Whilst in the Visitor Centre, pay your entry fee, pick up a Visitor Map, take out a supporter subscription, view a variety of static displays, listen to recorded bird song to help identify birds on your walks, view our fish tank (koura – native fresh water crayfish and kōaro – a mature white bait fish) and meet Gordon the Green Gecko, examine prints left behind on the tracking cards and more.

When you’ve finished your visit, please post comments on our Facebook page, or write us a review on Google


There are a number of tracks for you to explore using a map from the Visitor Centre or utilising the information panels as you come across them.

The easiest is the Valley Floor Loop Track which is a charming and easy walk of some 45 minutes and accessible for push chairs, wheel chairs and mobility scooters, and features the newest addition to Sanctuary the Founders Bridge across the dam.

An extended walk that takes in a higher loop back is not quite so well developed (narrower track) but takes visitors further into the beautiful central valley floor or up the ridges.

A variety of other tracks that are a little more challenging – some with river crossings and steep terrain – weave throughout the Sanctuary suitable for different fitness levels and time.


Alternatively, you might take a guided walking tour to ensure the very best experience in a short time frame.  Your guide will ensure you understand what you are seeing, the history of the area and our vision for the future.

Click here for more details and to book your guided walk.

We don’t mind people leaving their stress or footprints in the Sanctuary but please don’t leave anything else behind.


Visitors to our Visitor Centre can view detailed information and displays about the history of the area and our conservation project, listen to bird calls to assist with identification in the Sanctuary and study the native koura (native crayfish) in a tank.

Sanctuary volunteer hosts are on hand to answer questions about our walks and facilities, and can provide directions if required.

The Visitor Centre building is the result of significant community collaboration.

  • A local architect donated the award-winning design.
  • Funding was provided by Canterbury Community Trust and the Baigent Family Trust.
  • Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology Carpentry school students and tutors undertook initial construction as a donation and as part of the training programme.
  • Local businesses and individuals donated supplies, time and services to complete the building.
  • A grant from the Ministry of Tourism provided funds for displays within it.

There are toilets at the Visitor Centre but none in the Sanctuary.

When you go through the double gates into the Sanctuary you are entering a biosecurity area.  For this reason we need you to check your bags for any small intruders (such as mice).


Gordon’s actually a visitor himself (he’s an Auckland Green Gecko).  He lives very comfortably in his own little gecko vivarium in our Visitor Centre.

Gecko at one time inhabited this region.  Happily, one of our team recently spotted a couple of Nelson green gecko (Naultinus stellatus) in the undergrowth and we are hoping they will become more common now that mammalian predators have been removed.



Sponsor; Jens Hansen; logo
Sponsors; J&E Reuhl; logos
Sponsors; kumanu; logos
Sponsors; Simplicity; logos
Back To Top