Rainbow Station Road – Part 1 – St Arnaud to Island Saddle

The Rainbow Road was built in the 1950s when electricity pylons were installed to supply power to the Nelson and Buller regions.  The road runs from St Arnaud (the main gateway to the Upper Wairau Valley) through to Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury (134km north of Christchurch). Rainbow Station including the private formed roads and tracks is leased from the crown by Rainbow Station Farms Ltd

We had looked forward to traveling this road for quite awhile, along with the Molesworth road. We finally got our ducks in a row and were very lucky with the weather. The weather was perfect, the road was dry and reasonably easy but you can see that in bad weather it could be quite hazardous in some areas.  Please read the information from the Rainbow station website below then enjoy an amazing trip through some spectacular scenery and a truly magical part of the country.

Important Information

The formed roads and tracks have not been engineered, nor are they maintained to meet the standards for public access.  Parts of it are hazardous.  The hazards are not individually signposted or marked.  Sudden weather changes can cause additional adverse conditions and/or additional hazards.  You travel at your own risk and accept full responsibility for your own safety,  the Leaseholder has no liability or responsibility of any sort for any injury, damage or accident to any person or property that enters Rainbow Station farmland and its surrounds, or when traversing the private formed tracks and/or roads.

Drivers are advised to use high-clearance 4WD vehicles.  It takes approximately three hours to traverse the 110km from St Arnaud to Hanmer or vice-versa.  There is no cell phone coverage and breakdown services may not operate in the private area.  Drivers also need to be self-sufficient and prepared for sudden changes in weather.  The floors of the Wairau, Rainbow and Paske Valley are farmed so please leave your dogs and domestic pets at home, leave gates as you find them, and respect stock, property and other users,

The first part of the road starts under the pylons just before the Wairau River bridge, it runs down the Valley and through beech forest – this section is called the Wairau-Hanmer Springs Hydro Road.The Rainbow river

For the first part of the road the pylons follow the rainbow river

The Toll booth – see below for costs

Beyhond the toll gate the Rainbow experience really begins. The road fords several streams and crossed the Wairau on a bridge, than enters Hells’ gate, a narrow gorge

Quite an Impressive bridge over the Wairau river

Hells gate, there had been some work done on the road after resent slips and wash outs, this is potentially the worse part of the road if the weather isn’t good. We were just lucky to pick such a beautiful day.

On the journey the road passes through Rainbow Station, Molesworth Station and St James Conservation Area

Lake Sedgemere

Interpretation board showing some of the districts history and the people who used the road.

Island Gully hut

Island Saddle – 1347 metres above sea level, this is the highest point in the road

Looking down on the Tophouse road and the Clarence River

How to get there

Access – Under normal conditions, the gates are unlocked daily from 7am-6pm between Boxing Day (26th December) and Easter Monday.  The applicable toll charges (see below) are payable to the Gate Manager on your way through. Access Forms are required to be completed and signed by all users at all times.

Rainbow Station Road is CLOSED to the public between Easter Tuesday and the 26th of December.   .

Toll charges (payable all year round)

The new season 2017-2018 charges are:

$40 per 4WD Vehicle

$20 per Motorcycle

$5 per Mountain Biker

Trampers – No charge

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