During the last school holidays, I said to my three teenagers, “Let’s go nowhere!” That sounded good to them as they contemplated time on screens watching YouTube videos, but I had something else in mind.
Nowhere is in mid-Canterbury, about an hour’s drive from the charming village of Mt Somers. Erewhon is named after the book by Samuel Butler (“nowhere” spelt backwards but leaving the “w” and “h” in place for smoother flow). It’s a 14,164ha station at the head of the Rangitata River – beautiful but brutal country, spectacular, cold and isolated. As you drive in across fords, you feel you are travelling into the Southern Alps themselves.
Erewhon Station has been owned and run by Colin Drummond for the past 20 years. He was recently joined by his new wife Erin Cassie and together they farm this amazing property the old way – with horses.
Erin took us on a wagon ride up into the hills above the homestead, driving a team of six Clydesdales. She was at the reins on a hair-raising track with tight corners and provided an enthralling commentary to go with the magnificent views. We learned about the psychology of horse teams, the advantages of horses over four-wheel-drives and how to muster merino sheep.
The ride was cold, but Erin wore shorts. She explained she wears them for as long as she can into the year to store vitamin D from the sun before the dark winter sets in. You can’t find farming any more authentic than this in 2018, and afterwards we had a homestead lunch of roast mutton, spuds and salad.
Erewhon should be on everyone’s bucket list as a Kiwi and on the way back, we stopped at Mt Sunday. It’s a small hill that got its name because boundary riders from high-country stations would meet there on Sundays. For Lord of the Rings fans, this “mountain” was transformed into the village of Edoras in The Two Towers. It’s a short (1.5 km), sharp climb, with awesome views of the Southern Alps.
The road between Mt Somers and Erewhon Station also passes the little holiday settlement of Lake Clearwater, which is popular for sailing,
Above: A view of spectacular Mt Somers from the station. Left: Mary’s twins, Jack and Elizabeth, meet some friendly locals. Below: The Clydesdales in action.