My patch: Mt Alford

Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon on his favourite walking track to Mt Alford.

Mt Alford track is a favourite walk for Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon.

Car park and access to the track is from the end of Alford Forest Settlement Road, just off Scenic Highway 72, just 30 minutes from Ashburton.

The track is 4.6km in each direction, which for the return journey takes him a little over five hours with a few stops along the way.

“The first hour is surrounded by luscious bush, crossing in and out of private land and Department of Conservation estate. Then comes open expanse, a steady climb through grassy areas with terrific views back over the plains and of surrounding mountains. The final hour to the summit is at times a bit rough and rocky, but you’re rewarded at the end with a stunning ridgeline walk to the peak.”

Andrew said a moderate level of fitness was required.

“Parts weren’t easy, and younger kids might struggle a little with the final climb to the summit.”

Dogs are not permitted.

Access easements are closed from September 20 to October 20 for lambing and calving.

His favourite part of the track?

“The wander through the bush is a nice way to start, and about half way up the track there is a picnic table with a terrific view if you are looking for an easier and shorter walk.”

He says the trickiest part of the track is at the end, rocky terrain without a lot of scrub or grass.

“But take your time and you’ll get there.”

Andrew says there’s a fascinating history behind the track. “In 1882 a fellow from Christchurch claimed he’d found diamonds at Mt Alford. Unsurprisingly it started a bit of a rush, with prospectors applying for 20,000 acres of land, and even a settlement called Diamond Town of 161 quarter acre sections planned. It all fell apart when the testing came back to confirm what was found was merely crystal.”

He says the Staveley Store, a short drive from the track car park, is a good place to stop for a treat on the way out. “Reload on calories with one of their excellent lamb sausage rolls.”

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