Rainbow Access


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 its farmland and private formed roads and tracks, is leased from the Crown by Lone Star Farms Ltd.  It is not a public area and any use is a revocable privilege granted by the Leaseholder.

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.  The Leaseholder consents to access by the public only on the basis that each person travels at his/her own risk, accepts full responsibility for his/her own safety, and accepts that the Leaseholder has no liability or responsibility of any sort for any injury, damage or accident to any person or property that enter Rainbow Station farmland and its surrounds, or when traversing the private formed tracks and/or roads.

The road is only suitable for 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.  You drive at your own risk.

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.

Rainbow Station hunting

Hunters must have a DoC permit and must obtain permission from the Rainbow Station Manager (Ph: + 64 3 521 1838) PRIOR to accessing this Leasehold land.  This is a safety issue first and foremost.


In season (gates open)

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.

Off season (gates locked)

For access between Easter Weekend and 26th December, the gates are locked and you will have to arrange access by contacting the Rainbow Station Manager on
+64 3 521 1838 after 6.30pm.

Access Forms are required to be completed and signed by all users at all times. These are available at the time of gaining access (In Season) and/or keys (Off Season).  Click here to download one.

Toll charges (payable all year round)

The current charges are:

$25 per 4WD vehicle

$15 per motorcycle

$2 per mountain biker

Trampers – no charge

Useful Links

More details about the road and its history, campsites, hunting permits, walkways etc can be found via the links below:-

Weather forecast for the Nelson Lakes National Park

Hanmer to St Arnaud Road via Rainbow Station

Molesworth Station