The His­tory Of Molesworth Sta­tion

NZ Today - - LETTERS -

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.

Mount Ta­puae-o-Uenuku.

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