Natural Attraction

Piano Flat & Waikaia Forest

Whitecoomb Road, Waikaia

The 10,500 hectare Waikaia Forest is a large island of beech forest, nestled in extensive farm and pastoral lands. It is the home of four unique invertebrates. Piano Flat is a large grassy, riverside clearing in the southern end of the forest that provides an excellent picnic area, a "back to nature", classic kiwi camping ground and access to several walking tracks.

Popular recreational pursuits in the area include horse riding, mountain biking, trailbike riding, trout fishing, hunting, walking, kayaking and 4-wheel drive excursions. At the camp site there is also an old style playground, built in 1958 and recently restored.

Piano Flat was named after Harry Selig, a piano player in a local orchestra, who was reputed to have been the first person to discover gold on the flat. The main water race at Piano Flat was built in the late 1800s to provide water for gold sluicing operations and was used for this purpose until the late 1940s. The race is still maintained to supply water to the camping and picnic area, plus several private cribs. It is the only operational water race in Southland. The Bunting family are believed to have been the first people to have camped at Piano Flat in 1928, and it has been a popular family camping spot ever since.

The Ngahere Ara Track is 30 minutes return, an easy loop track starts beside the children's playground and is best walked in an anti-clockwise direction. This forest walk also features historic relics of goldmining activity. The natural surface can be muddy at times.

The Piano Flat Loop Track is signposted off the Ngahere Ara Track. It continues through beech forest and includes reminders of early saw-milling days. 

Waikaia River Track is four hours return. Cross the wire swing bridge from the main camping area and follow the Waikaia River upstream to a second swing bridge. Return downstream on the opposite bank and along the road. Note: This is a tramping track which can be muddy and rough in places.

Titan Rocks Track is a 12km , seven hours return marked track. This rewarding tramp offers excellent views from above the bush line.


Note: Dog access is allowed only for dogs with a DOC permit. To obtain a permit contact the Murihiku / Invercargill DOC Office. Go here for more dog friendly walks in Southland. 

Great South
Last modified
Thu 13 Jan 2022
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