Molesworth Station is a New Zealand icon and of great historical interest.
Molesworth Station is New Zealand’s largest farm at 182,000 hectares (500,000 acres, or over 700 square miles), and supports New Zealand’s largest cattle run. Its size and situation in some of the South Island’s most spectacular, diverse and remote high-country areas and its historic buildings make it a place of interest and fascination to history-lovers and tourists alike.
Molesworth Station has seen failure and success through its colourful history. Originally the station was farmed as a sheep run. However, rabbit infestation, overgrazing, and constant tussock-burning in order to stimulate growth, has almost caused this vast region to become unworkable, and brought a succession of bankruptcies to several of its lease-owners. Eventually, between 1938 and 1949 the leases were surrendered to the Crown. A concerted effort to control the rabbits and a change to cattle farming of the station has made the station profitable once more.
Ecologically, Molesworth is of interest too. Its biodiversity is extremely important, being noted for its unique plant-life to be found nowhere else in the world. It has twelve nationally rare plant species as well as its diverse lizard population. It contains 77 plant and lizard species that are threatened with extinction.
In December 2003, the government announced that the station would become permanently protected as a unique high-country park. Up to this time, farming needs restricted public access with only 15% of the farm available to the public, and only during a certain period of the year. As from July 2005, Molesworth was transferred from Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) administration to the Department of Conservation (DOC) in an attempt to preserve the threatened flora and fauna as well as provide greater but controlled public access.
Making this announcement, the current Prime Minister, Helen Clark, made the comment that Molesworth has significant tourism potential. "Molesworth is an extraordinary area for recreation offering opportunities for walking, mountain biking, trout fishing, tramping and horse-trekking."
While access to Molesworth Station is available by road, as the DOC website states, motorists are not covered by Automobile Association (AA) services on the road. The road is prone to slips, washouts and snow, and all vehicles must stay on the road.
Hanmer Springs is but a hop-skip-and-a –jump from Molesworth by helicopter. Hanmer Springs Helicopters is able to give you a tour of the vast area showing the variety of country this famous station covers. Inquiries are welcome!
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