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Molesworth Station road to open for Summer season

DOC Media release

20 December 2012

Molesworth Station road to open for Summer season

When the road through Molesworth Station re-opens on 28 December there will be some new attractions for visitors this summer. Interpretation panels along the Acheron Rd and an East-West walking route are now in place.

Facts, stories and interesting information about the Station’s farming history, its rare and varied plants and animals and the current management of the Station are attractively displayed in shelters at over 10 sites along the Acheron Rd and Tophouse Roads.

The new East-West route links the Kahutara River in Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia (Clarence) Conservation Park with the Sedgemere Lakes Area in the Molesworth Recreation Reserve. At least 5-6 days should be allowed for the East West Route. The unmarked route, which is suitable for trampers with a high degree of off-track experience and fitness does not require a permit.

The Acheron Road through the180,787- hectare station was first opened to the public in summer 1987-88 for six weeks. The open period for the road has since increased and this summer it will be open for more than 14 weeks, up until 7pm on Easter Monday 8th April, road and fire risk conditions permitting.

The summer road opening began to enable New Zealanders to drive through and experience the dramatic high country landscape of what is New Zealand’s biggest farm. The Department of Conservation managed the opening of the road through the Crown-owned station and in July 2005 Molesworth Station became a recreation reserve under DOC administration with Landcorp Farming Limited continuing to run its cattle farm.

DOC South Marlborough Area Manager Dave Hayes said more than 85,000 people in more than 40,000 vehicles had travelled the Acheron Road in the summer opening period since it was first opened in summer 1987-88.

‘The Acheron Road goes through a vast awe-inspiring landscape of towering mountains and river valleys. The station is steeped in history, in its farming evolution and as a Maori and early European travel route. The journey takes in two historic cob buildings, the Acheron Accommodation House and the Molesworth Cob Cottage.’

‘People enjoy the road trip as an accessible and secure way to experience a remote and extreme environment.’

Anyone planning to travel the road should first check the road is open as it can close at short notice due to weather-related conditions. Calls can be made to the DOC South Marlborough Area Office, ph (03) 572 9100 or people can ask at visitor centres in the region.

The journey through the station can be made as a day trip, taking around six hours between Blenheim and Hanmer, or people can camp overnight near the Molesworth Cob Cottage and Acheron Accommodation House. If you are making a round trip through Rainbow Station to St Arnaud, a 4WD vehicle is required. This is a toll road that is open from 26th December until 1st April.

Several tracks provide opportunity to get out of vehicles and enjoy short walks with panoramic views.
–Ends–
Background information
• In three summers the road did not open at all due to the fire danger in the region, in summers 1998-99, 2001-02 and 2003-04. However, in 2004 the road did open at Easter for eight days.
• The Acheron Road is open between 7am and 7pm daily during its open period. Only roads open to the public can be driven. Since the station became a recreation reserve there has been no fee to travel the road.
• Visitors to Molesworth Station are asked to comply with a Molesworth Care Code to protect the farm and the area’s significant plant life. Care is particularly needed in dry summer conditions to prevent fires. Open fires are not allowed and portable cookers should be used for cooking.
• The area is ecologically important with over 70 threatened native plant species found there, including plants distinctive to the South Marlborough drylands.
• The East West Route and Leatham Molesworth Route is suitable for people with a high level of back country experience including navigation and map reading skills. Most of these routes are unmarked and follow natural features such as streams, rivers and ridges. You will need to carry and know how to use a topographic map. The relevant 1:50,000 Topo50 maps are: BS25 Severn, BS26 Mount Muller, BT25 Mount Northhampton, BT26 Mount Clear, BS27 Tapuae-o-Uenuku, BT27 Kaikoura. More information is available at: www.doc.govt.nz/molesworthroutes.

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