Te Kopahou – Entrance to Red Rocks
Location: South coast - west end of Owhiro Bay
Suitable for: Walking, cycling, four-wheel driving (4WD)
Brief description: Te Kopahou Reserve entrance is at the west end of Owhiro Bay. It provides a stopping point for people visiting the south coast or continuing further around the coastline. Previously a quarry, it is at the beginning of an easy walk or off-road cycle ride to Red Rocks and the seal haul-out area at Sinclair Head. This area is also open for 4WD vehicles, other than Sundays when the gate is closed and it is only open for walkers and mountain bikers. The western end of Taputeranga Marine Reserve is below the quarry face.
Parking: Large area of parking in the native landscape
Toilets and changing facilities: At the Te Kopahou Visitor Centre
Accessibility: Beyond the old quarry the road is unformed (4WD), but mostly flat
Dogs: Dogs must be kept on a leash
Features: The area was redeveloped as part of an overall landscape upgrade in 2008. Features include the old quarry building, now a Visitor Centre with displays on the old quarry and the south coast history, and the unique flora and fauna native to this part of the south coast. There are good views out to Cook Strait and the south coast from the area around Te Kopahou Visitor Centre with seating and gathering areas. The area also features a bronze sculpture of a shark (Frenzy) by Colin Webster-Watson.
History: Gravel was first taken from here from 1905, and quarrying began a few years later. After growing public concern over the quarry’s environmental impacts, the Council took over the site in 2000 after purchasing the land from the owners. The old quarry slopes have since been re-contoured to make them look more natural, and have been planted with some of the area’s rare and unique species. The last phase of the restoration work was the landscape development of the working quarry site. The area received a major landscape makeover including new roads, separate pedestrian pathways, seating and gathering areas and further planting of native species. The old quarry building was redeveloped to become the Te Kopahou Visitor Centre with remnant columns marking the history and the building's original footprint. Te Kopahou entranceway has won a variety of awards since its finish in 2008 including the NZ Landscape Institute's George Malcolm Supreme Award in early 2015.