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Southland District Council

Around the Mountains Cycling

Garston Activities

Welcome Rock Trails Activity Information


We welcome hikers and riders along our trails to discover rarely seen landscapes. Set aside a full day to enjoy the endless views of classic high country New Zealand. Enhance this experience by overnighting in our back country huts, to watch the sun retreat along the hills, soak in the outdoor bath and relax.


We are a fourth generation farming family who have owned Blackmore Station since 1911. Welcome Rock Trails is run by myself (Tom O’Brien) and my wife Katie.

Welcome Rock Trails takes its name from the prominent rock that sits on the skyline above the homestead. The rock was named by the early settlers who used the landmark as a meeting and trading point.

Welcome Rock Trails started in 2012 when the concept was conceived of a trail system through Blackmore Station following the old gold miner’s water races. Tom turned the first sod of earth on Tuesday 13 June 2013 and a revolution of new trail was revealed.

We worked hard hand building trail much like the gold miners of yesteryear using picks and shovels. We continue to work on the trail each day, pioneering and carving new opportunities to further explore this timeless landscape.

Our vision is to welcome visitors on a journey of past and present memories, through history, ecology and recreation. In essence to ‘traverse time and place’.

When Tom was a young boy his mother and father had the wisdom to retire one thousand hectares being half the farm, into a conservation covenant. Their vision was to preserve the high country allowing it to regenerate and share this with others.

As a family we wanted to fulfil our forefather’s vision without affecting the peacefulness of the reserve. We decided that low impact recreation such as hiking and biking would best fit this vision; and allow people to explore the high country at their leisure. We wanted to be sympathetic to the landscape, sensitive to the historic and ecological features, and mirror the techniques of the water race builders over a hundred years ago.

Today our dream is being realised, where the land is regenerating back to its pre-settlement beauty as visitors enjoy this sanctuary for how it was.

Your Experience

A Welcome Rock experience can involve hiking, biking or just relaxing at the huts. Along the way we have included sites that are suitable to relax; with beautiful waterfalls for swimming and refilling drink bottles, areas which are steeped in history, or natural treasures with engaging ecology. We recommend that you plan ahead to allow additional time to enjoy these experiences.

skills required

Welcome Rock Trails is an intermediate grade 3 single track mountain bike trail.

-          Riders and Walkers require a medium level of fitness

-          Previously ridden off road on rough ground and uneven surfaces

-          Experience riding single trail that is technically engaging

-          Ability to stand up out of your seat whilst riding

Our trails

Roaring Lion Trail

Like a Lion, the creek that fed the race roared with inten­sity. This trail celebrates the Chinese water race builders, who 110 years ago built the meandering bermed profile that follows the folds of the landscape. Today half the hand crafted trail is on this flat race with the remaining on gentle gradients.

Ride our trail

If you are biking the entire Roaring Lion Trail loop we recommend allowing an entire day (7 to 8 hours) to complete the loop and have time for breaks, photos and interpretation along the way. The loop is 27km from the Historic Southland Ski Hut back to the same point. There is the option of riding a further 8km from the Historic Southland Ski Hut down the Nevis Road back to State Highway 6. This will depend on where you started your ride.

Overnight/Multi Day Trips

We recommend staying on-site as this gives you additional time to enjoy the high country as well as having a later start for your journey and more time to enjoy the high country. There are 3 huts available to stay in on the property.

Our Accommodation

Back country huts have a long history in our country’s culture. The Mud Hut, Slate Hut, Red Shed and The Fluming’s & Roaring Lion Camp are operated by Welcome Rock Trails. All of which are located at different points along the Roaring Lion water race apart from The Red Shed which is located at the homestead.


Mud Hut accommodation

The Mud Hut is a riding or walking excursion into 5000 acres of high country wilderness and is operated by a fourth generation farmer. From low-to highland, a rich tapestry unfolds revealing distant river flats, remnant beech forest, lofty skyscapes and a diverse mix of vegetation.

Originally built by the Chinese during the construction of the water race at the end of the nineteenth century, The Mud Hut is a reconstructed building made of sod mud bricks. By the 1980’s it was the best preserved waterman’s hut along the race. In 1990 the hut was restored with the help of the volunteers, Department of Conservation and 1990 Commission.

Up to four people may sleep on bunk beds, and there is a large open fireplace with wood stacked inside. A two burner gas element (with gas) and plenty of candles provide the cooking and lighting facilities. The hut has utensils, pans and basic cutlery. There is a gas heated outdoor bath, for you to enjoy soaking in the view.

A 20 minute walk / ride takes you to Welcome Rock Creek with waterfalls and swimming. Signs of early occupation remain as you follow the lines of water races and wonder at the hard work, ingenuity, and history of the gold miners.

Leaving from the farm homestead, the walk takes about 2 hours for those with a medium to good level of fitness, a minimum age of 10 years and any children must be with an adult. Bring clothing for all weather conditions including pack, sun protection, light summer clothing, swimming costume and large towel, good walking shoes or boots, long trousers, warm undergarments, jersey or shirt with a wind-and waterproof jacket and woolly hat.

You must also provide your own sleeping bag for the overnight stay. Please provide substantial food for lunch, dinner and breakfast.

For further information about the activities available in Garston, please visit

Outside Sports
9 Shotover Street, Queenstown

Around the Mountains Cycling