Field-Trip to Molesworth and Muller Stations, 8th-10th February 2019

Trip report by Barry

Another marvellous trip to an iconic North Canterbury – South Marlborough location steeped in history. The present Molesworth  Station taking in 180,476 ha., came about in 1938 and 1949 after the abandonment  of  4 pastoral runs and their reversion to the Crown.  The runs either alone or as a combination of  leases had a number of lessee’s and managers prior to the Crowns resumption – William Acton- Adams was one notable individual but it was Mr Bill Chisholm who is credited with bringing the land back to a productive cattle raising operation during his 1942 to 1968 stint as manager on behalf of Department of Lands & Survey. Another key figure was William Machin, general manager of NZ Farmers Co-op Assn who had acquired a substantial interest in Molesworth when it appeared to be a good prospect and it was he that extricated the company from a loss maker in 1938 by having Lands & Survey take back 114,700 ha of eroding land, empty of stock and infested with rabbits and weeds

Muller, our overnight stop, is a different situation. It is a combined merino sheep and cattle operation taking in approx. 39,000 ha. of high mountains, high hills, downs and flats. Although dwarfed by Molesworth’s size, Muller is none the less a substantial farming enterprise.

Sixteen members set out from Hanmer in warm conditions and minimal cloud so sunrise on day 2 and sunsets were not overly impressive, although the morning soft light provided good conditions for our pre breakfast shoot at Muller. The warm conditions were very pleasant, if a little too warm for some members, for our wander north through Molesworth on the Acheron Road and Awatere Valley Road. On day 2 after our morning photo shoot, we retraced our route to Red Gate and then crossed the Severn- Sedgemere  4wd track through Tarndale to the Wairau- Hanmer Hydro Road and in mid afternoon made our way over Island Saddle and back to Hanmer.

On Sunday Carl led the way up a farm track to Holmes Hill (700 m asl) on Lochiel Station for a panoramic view of the Hanmer Plains, Waiau River and hill country.

This trip had a number of highlights. Travelling through big country that is Molesworth, meeting and being hosted for dinner by Mr and Mrs Satterthwaite and family at Muller Station, morning photo shoot of the changing farm and mountain vista as we travelled along Awatere Valley Road and the return journey via Tarndale and Island Saddle.  Due to overly dry conditions the area travelled was closed for public access for fire safety reasons, on the night after our departure.

Our thanks to Carl, my fellow trip leader for organising and leading the trip. A big thank you to members for their participation and particularly to Jillian for her efforts on Sunday morning.  Very much appreciated.  Our thanks also to Mrs Satterthwaite and family for hosting us and putting on a wonderful dinner.

To view more images please visit Flickr