Last weekend PB & I went for a little drive. We headed north & inland to the thermal village of Hanmer Springs from where we planned to drive through the Molesworth Station. This is New Zealand’s largest ‘farm’ – it’s really more like what my American friends would know as a ranch. Here in NZ we call these large farms that are in the back ground ‘high country stations.’ Generally these stations run Merino sheep, valued for their exceptional wool, and some cattle, but Molesworth is entirely dedicated to beef cattle. The Molesworth homestead is the highest permanently occupied in the whole of NZ. It is at an altitude of 900 metres (about 2 950 feet.)
Most of New Zealand is coastal and consequently has rather mild weather pretty much all year. A few places do experience ‘ continental’ weather conditions as they are far enough inland. This area is one of those – it is bitterly cold here in winter & a good part of the station may be covered in snow for up to two months. In summer it can be viciously hot & dry! (But probably not as hot as an Arizona desert.)
It is only possible for the general public to travel through the Molesworth between the end of December & the beginning of April each year. It’s 26 kilometres (16 miles) from Hanmer village to Acheron – which is the start of the trip from this end, then the part of the trip between the Acheron & Molesworth gates is around 60 kilometres (a bit under 40 miles) and finally the trip out the Awatere Valley at the Blenheim end of the Station is a further 100 kilometres ( around 60 miles.)This is almost all on unsealed gravel roads. It’s not exactly a 4WD trip, but it is pretty slow & rough – and dusty, dusty, dusty!!
We had planned to do the trip last summer, but cancelled due to family illnesses, so this year when we unexpectedly had a three day weekend free, we went for it! The weather was perfect. Hot clear & sunny. Not perfect photography conditions though, but we still got some scenic and interesting shots. So – go look at the slide show & comments to see how our journey went.