Molesworth Travel Guide

  • The historic Acheron Accommodation House.
    The historic Acheron Accommodation...
    by Kakapo2
  • Sweet Briar bushes and Blue Borage in red grass.
    Sweet Briar bushes and Blue Borage in...
    by Kakapo2
  • Favorites
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Molesworth Things to Do

  • Expensive Alternative: Go on a Guided...

    If you do not want to rumble through Molesworth Station on your own, or want to make the round-trip but have no 4WD vehicle, you can opt for a guided tour. But let me warn you: They are hugely expensive. The positive thing about it, apart from travelleing in a very relaxing way: They are allowed to operate outside the official season for self-drive...

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  • Have a Picnic near the Ranger Station

    Opposite the historic Molesworth Cob Cottage you see this accommodation container. It is the Department of Conservation’s modest Ranger Station. The ranger was not on site while we were there, so could not find out how hard and/or lonesome his job is.The carpark is the perfect place for a picnic as it is shaded by mature trees. It is not the...

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  • Historic Molesworth Cob Cottage

    When we were there in January 2009, the original cob cottage was just going through restoration.It was built by John Murphy in 1866 as the gateway to Molesworth and the northern start/end of the Acheron Road. Camping is possible near the cottage. Costs are NZ$ 6 per adult per night and NZ$ 1.50 per child per night. Water and toilets are provided.

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  • View the Molesworth Homestead from a...

    You can see the Molesworth Homestead from the Acheron Road when you travel from south to north, and if you climb over a stile and walk up a hill (about 10 min) from the cob cottage and carpark. It is closed to the public, as it houses the farm manager and his family, and their privacy should be respected.The homestead was built in 1885 and then...

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  • Travelling along the Awatere River

    The river you spot near Molesworth Homestead and Cob Cottage is the Awatere. It has its catchment near Barefell Pass and flows north-east, along a geological faultline and the Inland Kaikoura Range. The valley runs parallel to that of the Clarence River, which is 20 km further south.It flows into Cook Strait near the town of Seddon after a 110 km...

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  • Seaward and Inland Kaikoura Ranges

    The Inland Kaikouras rise to more than 2800 metres in the north. The Seaward Range is up to nearly 2600 metres high.The Clarence River runs between those two mountain ranges. The Inland Kaikouras run close to the Acheron Road in its northern part. They are often snow-capped even in summer.The highest peak is Tapuae-o-Uenuku with 2885 metres. It is...

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  • Power Pylons

    You would think such power pylons are eyesores in an otherwise perfectly natural and lonesome landscape, and surely you hate power lines crossing your photos, especially when they cut through your super blue sky. But in some areas those pylons add to the surreal impression of this stony and dusty desert.Especially in the flat before reaching Muller...

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  • Open and Close Farm Gates

    It is always good to have a passenger like me ;-) I did not count – but I had to get out of the car quite often to open and close farm gates. You have them before and after every river crossing, and there are two at very close range before Wards Pass where you cross the Acheron and the Saxton Rivers before their confluence.Please leave the gates as...

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  • Bare mountains in the Distance

    When travelling north, you see quite some mountains to your left which are higher than 2000 metres and have bare rock faces. Near the start of your trip Mt. Sebastopol (2013 m) is the highest peak. Before you reach Molesworth Cob Cottage at the northern end of the station, a peak named Severn (2027 m) is visible from the road.The mountains you will...

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  • Work your way up Wards Pass

    76 kilometres into your journey, you reach Wards Pass. Its highest point is 1145 metres. This does not sound a lot but it is an alpine pass and due to snow closed for long periods. Driving up there offers great views of the Acheron and Saxton River valleys, and the Severn Valley at the distance. At the top is a gate, and yahoo – we “met” some...

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  • Crossing Muller Station

    To Acheron Road crosses a small section of Muller Station which – opposite to Molesworth – mainly farms merino sheep, but also some cattle and deer. The stock limit is 16,000 sheep and 1500 cattle.The station is partly on freehold and on leasehold which expires in 2026.The Awatere Fault runs through the property which rises from 760 to 2100 metres....

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  • Rocks, Gravel, Pebbles, and Dust

    As mentioned at one point or another, you will eat a lot of dust on a hot day. Somehow it makes the trip real. Surely you can close the windows of your car and turn on the aircondition when driving through Molesworth. But it would somehow isolate you from the place you are in. You have to feel the wind and the sun. Ok, close the windows when...

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  • Isolated Flat: Enhancing the Feeling of...

    This vast expanse covers 250 hectares. It is an outwash plain, bounded by the Awatere Fault, covered in scree, short grass and the tall blue flowering borage.From the south you have a great view of it from Isolated Saddle, from the north you can overlook it from Wards Pass. It is due to its name: sooo very isolated, absolutely fascinating. It...

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  • Isolated Saddle

    From here you can walk up to the summit of Mt. Augarde (about 5km) – but from up there you barely get a much better view than from this lookout point already.But the story of Mount or Mister Augarde after whom the hill was named is very interesting. A stand of pines and willow in the distance marks his grave if you look to the west. It is the place...

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  • Guide River

    The confluence of the Acheron and the Guide Rivers is 20 kilometres north of the Acheron Accommodation House. The Guide River was another route for stock movement between the Awatere and Acheron Valleys. This route leads over Barefell Pass.There is a good lay-by and track a bit away from the road, with a Guide River sign, near the confluence of...

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  • Red Grass Landscapes

    In dry conditions and splendid sunshine you get this surreal composition of colours in the grasslands of the valley floor. Bright orange, like painted by Van Gogh.Further on towards Muller Station, even the hills are covered in this monocultural red grass which makes it even look more surreal. It is a bit like the red rock deserts – just that the...

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  • Travelling along the Acheron River

    When you see the Acheron River the first time, it is its end, as it flows into the Clarence River near the Acheron Accommodation House. At this time it carries as much water as the Clarence. It has its spring north of Molesworth Station, and quite a big number of significant tributaries, as the Sexton and the Severn Rivers.The Acheron is considered...

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  • Orientation: You are Here…

    On this water-coloured map you can get quite a good idea of the location of the Acheron Accommodation House.It also gives a great idea of the spectacular landscape it is sitting in.Next to this map you find brochures (28 pages) of Molesworth. Have some coins ready to pay the small fee into an honesty box.This year (2009) about 7000 people travelled...

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  • Inside the Acheron Accommodation House

    Have a look at the ceiling inside the building. The roof is thatched with tussock grass. The beech rafters are tied together with flax.We are lucky to see the house nicely restored and not demolished. The reason for considering the latter was that the building deteriorated between 1950 and 1970. But on the initiative of the Canterbury Branch...

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  • The Historic Acheron Accommodation House

    This altiplano-like white cob cottage was built by cob builder Ned James in 1863. (In some sources I found 1862 as the year of construction.) It was an overnight stop for travellers and stockmen moving through the inland route between Nelson and Hanmer Springs until 1932. Then it cost two shillings and a sixpence (= 25 cents) for a bed, a meal and...

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  • Crossing the Clarence River

    Shortly before reaching the Acheron Accommodation House, you cross the Clarence River. Just a short way after that the Acheron River flows into the Clarence River.Shortly before you cross those bridges on Molesworth, you always have to perform a sharp turn to the left or to the right. So be prepared to slow down when you spot a bridge.

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  • Approaching the first “Oasis”

    After a drive through a very dry and dusty desert-like landscape, interrupted only by huge power pylons, you approach your first kind of oasis in the desert landscape. The dot of green at the horizon gets bigger and bigger as you get closer. They are the willows growing in abundance in the area of the Acheron Accommodation House along the Clarence...

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  • Clarence River

    This is the first river you get to see when reaching the valley after having crossed Jacks Pass. This intersection is about 10 km from Hanmer Springs.While you travel to the right along the river on the Acheron Road (so: out of this photo), the Rainbow Road turns off to the left (on the photo: to the right along the ridge in the background). The...

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  • First Stop at the Jacks Pass Saddle

    Have a look around at Jacks Pass saddle. The beautiful landscape of Molesworth starts to open up – but be prepared for the first Oh’s and Ah’s at the end of the pass road when you reach the Clarence River.Even if access to Molesworth Station is not allowed, the drive to the point where Molesworth begins is well worth the effort. You get a very good...

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Molesworth Sports & Outdoors

  • Hiking on Molesworth

    There are several walking tracks on the property.For 2009 three new tracks have been marked. If you plan to walk there, bring everything you need to protect yourself against the sun, as there is not a single tree which would provide some shade.The walk up Mt. Chisholm takes 1:20 hours, and offers far reaching views of the station.The 2 hour hike up...

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  • A Run and Mountainbiking for the very...

    At a time when the Acheron Road is not open yet – usually in November – the Molesworth Run takes place. And you run – not the cattle!You should be an experienced marathon or at least half-marathon runner to be able to finish this race. You have to run on gravel from the Molesworth Cob Cottage. The finish line is in Hanmer Springs, after 84.7...

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Molesworth Favorites

  • Sweet Briar

    -This is another weed that has invaded the farmland. It is also called wild rose. Sweet Briar was introduced as an ornamental around the homesteads. (Same story as with the arguably more spectacular Russell lupins in the High-Country. They were first planted as colourful highlights along the monotonous roads and have spread into the braided...

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  • Blue Borage

    -This plant (scientific name: Echium vulgare) dots some colour into the landscape. It is rather invasive but at least its blue flowers attract bees who then produce a nicely flavoured honey. They are important pollinators for the introduced pasture plants, including clover.Blue Borage was also introduced. It is common in Madeira, the Canary...

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  • Cob Constructions

    -You might ask why they built cob cottages, such as the Acheron Accommodation House and the Molesworth Cob Cottage, on the farm, and not timber cottages like in the rest of the country. Look around and you will notice the lack of timber, and this was no different at the time of building nearly 150 years ago. The following text is taken from a...

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