Road trips can once again be made through historic Molesworth Station between Blenheim and Hanmer with the reopening of the Awatere Valley Road leading to the station’s northern end.
Driving the Acheron Road through Molesworth provides opportunity to experience the vast 180,787-hectare high country station that is New Zealand’s largest farm. It is a Department of Conservation-administered recreation reserve with a working cattle farm run by Landcorp Farming Limited.
A major slip blocking the Awatere Valley Road since the 14 November Kaikoura earthquake has been cleared by Marlborough District Council. Until the road reopened it had only been possible to enter and exit Molesworth Station at its Hanmer end.
DOC South Marlborough Operations Manager Phil Bradfield said the drive though Molesworth Station on an unsealed road was slow, allowing time to enjoy breath-taking views of dramatic high country terrain.
“It takes about four and a half hours to drive between Blenheim and Hanmer on the Acheron Road or longer if stops are made to take in sights along the way or to go for a short walk.
“The trip goes through wide river valleys with towering mountains beyond. Visitors can also look at two historic cob buildings – the Acheron Accommodation House and the Molesworth Cob Cottage, a former farm homestead.”
Campsites at the cob buildings provide opportunity to stay overnight in the station. The camping fees are $8 per adult and $4 per child per night. Portable cookers should be carried.
The Acheron Road is open to the public between Labour Weekend and April. Anyone planning to make the road trip should first check the road is open as it can close at short notice due to fire risk and other weather-related conditions. Check the DOC website or call the Wairau DOC office, phone + 64 03 572 9100.
Careful driving is needed on the narrow, unsealed Acheron Road. It is suitable for two-wheel drive cars and mountain bikes but not for caravans, trailers or vehicles over seven metres long. The road is open from 7 am to 7 pm daily.
There is no cell phone reception and no fuel available. Drivers must carry a spare tyre and be prepared to change it if necessary.
As it is a working farm public access is restricted to roads and areas open to the public. There are short walks people can take to explore on foot.
Visitors to Molesworth Station are asked to comply with a Molesworth Care Code to protect the farm and the area’s ecologically-important native flora. The area is often very dry in summer and care must be taken to avoid starting fires.
People can also drive between Hanmer and the Wairau Valley on the Rainbow Road on the western side of Molesworth with the section through Rainbow Station open from 26 December to Easter Monday. There is a fee for travel through privately-managed Rainbow Station, payable at the old Rainbow Homestead near Connors Creek: $25 per vehicle, $15 per motorcycle, and $2 for pushbikes.