For a long time we wanted to travel from Blenhiem to Hanmer Spring via the Molesworth Station Road (and the Rainbow Station road – see post soon). We always seemed to be in that area at the wrong times, the Kaikoura earthquake, the road closed due to bad weather or we had the dogs with us (no dogs allowed). This time, dogs in the kennels and on our way to see family in Blenhiem we were there at the right place at the right time. Late March and stunning weather meant we got to see Molesworth Station and Rainbow Station (see post) in all their glory. Amazing back country views so often seen in the south island.
The trip started at Seddon, we wound our way down the Awatere valley leaving behind the vineyards of Marlbourgh.
Molesworth Station today is an amalgamation of four separate pastoral leases – Molesworth, Tarndale, St Helens and Dillon – abandoned to the Crown between 1938 and 1949 because of rabbit infestation, stock losses in disastrous snowfalls, and economic recession. The station has remained in Crown ownership and gradually recovered from its earlier desolation, thanks to extensive rabbit control and over-sowing of some 37,000 ha in the 1950s and 60s. Today up to 10.000 cattle graze on lands. Over the years Molesworth has developed an almost mythical status. The initial opening of the road through the station as a toll road in 1988, attracted 3300 people. In 2005 the toll was removed and the road is now open for several months during the summer. Its transformation into a recreation reserve has opened up more opportunities for people to experience this remote area. Below the Awatere vallry, looking back towards Blenheim
The start of the Molesworth Road – Acheron Road
Cobb cottage. At the start of the molesworth road is the original Molesworth cottage, built as a single roomed cobb hut in 1866, it served as a homestead for Molesworth Run until the present homestead was built in 1885. There are toilets and you can camp here.
One of the walking tracks that run through this area.
This beats any cafe!! Such a beautiful day and amazing views!This bridge was built by engineering students in 1945 to enable an annual muster of around 15,000 sheep on the St Helens Station to cross the Acheron river. The bridge was only used for a few seasons and restored by DOC in 2013.
Below – there are two transmission lines that run through Molesworth, one 220kv DC transmission line and submarine line know as the HVDC link. These lines generally follow the road.
The Acheron Accommodation house built in 1862-63, this house provided accommodation and shelter for drovers and other travellers along the inland route between Tophouse and Hanmer until 1932. The derelict building was rescued by the Historic Places Trust and maintained by DOC. Unfortunately the building was damaged by the recent Kaikoura earthquake and is fenced off.
The Acheron river – it’s a short trip from here to Hanmer
From Blenheim, follow SH1 south, then turn right at the Awatere Valley intersection just north of Seddon and the Awatere Valley Bridge. A sign here will indicate whether the Acheron Road through Molesworth is open.
From Hanmer, take Jacks Pass Road a short distance past the Hurunui i-SITE and about 750 metres along that road turn right into the Clarence Valley Road. Follow this road over the pass and turn right for Molesworth and the Acheron road. The alternative is Jolly’s pass which a unmaintained forestry road, interesting but 4 wheel drive only.
Know before you go
Check if the road is open
The Acheron Road through Molesworth Station is open 7 am – 7 pm daily from the Saturday of Labour Weekend to Easter Monday or the second Sunday in April, whichever is the later date.
It can close without warning due to weather conditions or fire danger. Check the current status.