Bluff Hill

The Bluff Hill/Motupohue area provides visitors to the area with spectacular views over Foveaux Strait and the Southland Plains, a well-established track network, mountain bike track, car park and interpretation panels.

Original native forest, wind-battered coast and scrub-covered hillsides are some of the delights of Bluff Hill/Motupohue.

Bluff Hill holds a special place in the history of Maori, and has been recognised under the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998 as a site with statutory acknowledgement. The Act acknowledges Ngai Tahu’s cultural, spiritual, historic and traditional association with Motupohue (Bluff Hill).

James Spencer was the first European settler on the Southern mainland. Spencer landed at Bluff in January 1824 and his house is said to be the first European house in Southland. He obtained  permission from local Maori to settle on some of the land now known as Bluff Hill.

While walking is the main recreational pursuit in the area, downhill mountain biking is also gaining popularity. Points of interest include the panoramic views and informative panels at the top of Bluff Hill; Stirling Point with its famous sign and historic Pilot Station; the well-formed walking tracks offering a range of experiences from easy to challenging; and historic wartime sites. Bluff Hill walking tracks are jointly managed by the Council’s Parks Division and the Department of Conservation.

Walking tracks

Foveaux Walkway: Stirling Point to Lookout Point (3124m, 60 minutes one way). The coastal track from Stirling Point to Lookout Point has an easy grade and well-compacted surface providing good views across Foveaux Strait.

Topuni Track: Stirling Point to Bluff Hilltop (1667m, 50 minutes one way). A short track from Stirling Point climbs steeply past the WWII gun emplacement to meet the Tópuni Track, Gunpit Road access and Glory Track. The Topuni Track continues up an undulating path (steep in parts) through regenerating forest and coastal shrub lands to the summit of Bluff Hill.

Glory Track: Tópuni Track to Foveaux Walkway (2137m, 60 minutes one way). The Glory Track offers a alternative return track through the quiet shelter of native forest.

Millennium Track: Lookout Point to Bluff Hilltop (1717m, 55 minutes one way). A steep track from Lookout Point to the summit of Bluff Hill through wind-shorn shrub land is rewarded by superb views across Foveaux Strait to Stewart Island/Rakiura.

Ocean Beach Track: Lookout Point to Ocean Beach (4178m, 90 minutes one way). The coastal track becomes a marked route across private farmland. No dogs allowed. Fur Seals and Southern Right Whales may visit the coast in winter.