The History Of Molesworth Station
Hi Sarah, In our newsagent I spotted your magazine with a photo of one of my favorite locations in New Zealand, the old Acheron Accommodation House on Molesworth Station.
I was expecting to find a different perspective and some interesting stories about your trip through Molesworth. Instead I found nothing. Nothing about why the route is there and its rich history involving a series of accommodation houses stretching from Nelson through to Canterbury. Nothing about Molesworth Station as it is today and how Landcorp and DOC work the area together. Nothing about how one can visit or drive the road only during the summer.
One other little thing to put right is that there is no hut at Lake Tennyson, but a picnic shelter with information panels. Regards, Graham Pullman ED. Thanks so much for your letter Graham. I am sorry you did not find the article to your liking. I guess I wrote it in more of an experiential fashion, noting what I saw, rather than its history, although I certainly did mention the history of Lake Tennyson and Lord Byron and also that DOC manages the station and leases 10 per cent back to Landcorp (please see page 25 of NZTODAY 53). I did not know that you could only visit the station in the summer, so I appreciate that piece of information. Anyway, based on your letter, I will give a brief history of the station and its route and I would like to thank DOC for this information. Maori were likely to have explored the area over 600 years ago and Ngai Tahu established trails which were used to find food and to access the West Coast of the South Island to gather pounamu. Maori explained these routes to early European settlers who wrote of finding an old Maori whare (building) in Acheron and Maori artifacts near Lake Guyon. In the late 1850s and 1860s, farmers started using the Molesworth trails to supply Canterbury with stock which they found more cost effective than importing animals from Australia. These stock routes continued well into the 20th century. Several cob houses, as described in last issue’s article, were built to house these rovers and travellers. The Acheron ( on the cover of NZTODAY 53) and the Molesworth cob cottages are registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. In the mid 20th century, high voltage power cables were set up all along the trails and they are still there today. Molesworth is still the biggest farm in New Zealand but what is now farmed has changed. It was originally sheep farming but was changed to cattle once the Crown took over in 1938. At the time the government took over, the land had been ravaged by overgrazing, rabbits and by burning of tussock. Control of these areas has helped bring the land back to health.
Wharf in Resolution Bay near Furneaux Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds.