Flat Top Hill Conservation Area This Department of Conservation managed area is located 6 km south of Alexandra on SH8 towards Roxburgh. The only entrance is signposted on the Alexandra side of Butchers Dam and a short road leads to a car park and information kiosk.
The 813 hectare area is situated on the other side of the dam and walking access is over the impressive dam structure. From the car park you will see why it is called ‘Flat Top Hill’; it rears above the dam and is long and very flat on top. This is a dry land ecosystem and supports a diverse range of animal and plant life, as well as having historic connections to the gold mining era. In fact, the Butchers Gully Hotel is submerged under the water, the dam being filled after the gold era for irrigation.
There are two differing styles of walk at Flat Top Hill and grades that will suit most visitors. The main track is an interpretive loop of about 40 minutes that goes from the car park information kiosk, over the impressive dam wall and around the historic gold tailings area on the other side of Butchers Dam. The track is suitable for wheelchairs as far as the dam only. This easy walk is on a well maintained gravel track and returns to the dam. There are nine interpretive panels describing the ecosystem, geology, and history of the area.
The second opportunity is a ‘wander at will’ option over old tracks up and along the Flat Top Hill itself. There are numerous ways to go and currently there is one marked route which takes about two hours. This branches off the main track just over the dam following orange DOC markers all the way up, along, and down the hill back on to the main track.
The impressive views over the Manuherikia Basin and down to Lake Roxburgh and the Roxburgh Gorge Trail will take your breath away. It is hard to get lost as you can always see down to the main track and across the dam to the highway. This is a thyme field area that is devoid of high foliage so the views are always with you.
Good footwear and fitness are required and take a lunch and something to drink.