On the way to Lake Heron, Lake Clearwater and Erehwon Station we called in at the Hakatere Station historic buildings in the Ashburton lakes area. The historic building were once at the heart of life in the Ashburton Gorge.
The cottage was built in 1862 and could be the oldest building in mid-Canterbury. The cottage was home to the head shepherd and known as the ‘head Shepard’s cottage’ until around 1892, after which it became known as the ‘married quarters’. The cottage was not always lived in. At one stage it was the post office for the area, and it was later used for storage. The mutton chiller was the only room in the building that was in constant use until the mid 1970’s.
The singlemen’s or shearer’s quarters were built in the 1870s and have been gradually added on to as the need arose. When first built, the quarters contained the cookhouse in the middle, with the men’s bunkrooms flanking the sides. Between 1960 and 1980 up to fourteen men lived in these quarters at any one time.
Sam Chaffey built the cook shop in the 1940’s using part of a relocated building, in order to house the cook and family, and to create an area for the shepherds to eat and socialise.
The buildings were purchased along with Hakatere Station in 2008 by the Nature Heritage Fund. They are managed by the Department of Conservation, in partnership with the Hakatere Heritage Committee, a local volunteer group who aim to raise funds to restore the buildings for all to enjoy and use.
There is an information room open to the public 24/7 in the singlemen’s quarters. The room has information panels detailing the history and ecology of the area.
The historic Hakatere buildings are found at the junction of Ashburton Gorge Road and Heron Road, 23 km west of Mt Somers village.