Guide

Heritage, Culture & Arts

Marlborough’s rich history runs wide and deep, from the earliest Polynesian settlers of the Wairau Bar to the first European pioneers who built our towns and planted our first grapevines.

These people, the way they lived their lives and how they dealt with history’s major events has shaped Marlborough into what it is today. Those stories are all here, waiting to be discovered all over again.

Marlborough has a wealth of arts and culture, from art galleries to museums through to concerts and theatre productions.

Follow the Marlborough Arts and Crafts Trail, enjoy a glass of wine while listening to live music at a vineyard or on stage at Marlborough's new ASB Theatre.

Molesworth Station Heritage

Molesworth Station, in South Marlborough’s high country, is New Zealand’s largest farm. Each summer, many visitors travel through the 180,787 hectare station to enjoy its magnificent surrounds, but also to learn of its fascinating history. 
 
Maori History 
 
The route is one that was historically travelled by Ngai Tahu Maori for food gathering, or on their way to the West Coast to source greenstone (pounamu). There were no permanent Maori settlements on the route, but in 1850 an old Maori whare (house) was found near the junction of the Acheron and Clarence. 
 
European History 
 
It was Maori who taught early European settlers of this high country route, and farmers began taking their stock over the high passes. From the 1850s, the Molesworth became part of the main inland connection between Nelson Marlborough and North Canterbury, called the Canterbury Track. The Molesworth farm itself was created after the Crown amalgamated of three extensive pastoral leases: St Helens (including the Dillon Run), Tarndale and Molesworth. These farms fell into Crown hands in 1938 and 1949 after their runholders walked off the land, exhausted by a severe rabbit problem, overgrazing on eroding land and severe snowfalls. Through the 1950s and 60s the Government recovered the land, which today continues to be farmed under administration by the Department of Conservation. 
 
Acheron Accommodation House 
 
A number of cob houses were built along the route to house stock drovers: The Acheron Accommodation House, also known as the Clarence Accommodation House, is the only one left today. It was built in 1863 by Ned James, a ships carpenter and station hand known for also building cob buildings. He took nearly a year to build the eight-roomed house. The house grew into a social hub. It included a store and unofficial post office and became a venue for a number of local clubs and meetings. Once its proprietor, Ernie Tozier, died in 1932, the house became used less often and was abandoned in 1954. It has now been restored and, along with the Molesworth Cob Cottage (closed to the public), is registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. 
 
Travel the Molesworth 
 
The Acheron Road is open from Labour Weekend to around Easter, though can be closed at any point by the Department of Conservation if the fire risk is too high. The unsealed road is not suitable for large vehicles, but can be driven by 2-wheel-drive vehicles. The Molesworth is accessed from the AwatereValley, via Rainbow Station and from Hanmer Springs. Camping is available at several locations including near Molesworth Cob Cottage and Acheron Historic Accommodation House. 

 

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