Date: 21 December 2009
The Acheron Road through Molesworth Station is set to open to the public for 14 weeks from Monday 28 December, staying open slightly longer than usual to include Easter.
The road usually closes at the beginning of April but next year will close at 7pm on Easter Monday, 5 April. The opening of the road is dependent on road, weather and fire risk conditions. There is no fee to travel the road.
The annual road opening provides opportunity for the public to experience the vast South Marlborough high country station, a recreation reserve administered by the Department of Conservation with a working cattle farm run by Landcorp Farming Limited. At 180,787 hectares it is New Zealand’s largest farm.
Anyone planning to make the road trip 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 +64 3 572 9100 or people can ask at visitor centres in the region.
DOC South Marlborough Area Community Relations Programme Manager Colin Davis said generally around 7500 people make the Acheron Road trip during its three-month open period.
"Molesworth is a fascinating place to visit with a breathtaking landscape of mountains and river valleys, and a rich history related to farming and as an historic travel route through the top of the South Island. Visitors can look around two historic cob buildings – the Acheron Accommodation House and the Molesworth Cob Cottage, a former homestead.
“As it is a working farm public access is restricted to roads and areas open to the public. There are short walks people can take to explore on foot.”
Visitors to Molesworth Station are asked to comply with a Molesworth Care Code to protect the farm and the area’s ecologically-important native flora. The area is often very dry in summer and care must be taken to avoid starting fires.
The trip between Blenheim and Hanmer takes around six hours. The narrow and unsealed Acheron Road requires careful driving and is suitable for two-wheel drive cars and mountain bikes but not for caravans or vehicles over seven metres long. There are campsites at Molesworth Cob Cottage and Acheron Accommodation House, the fees for which are $6.00 per adult and $1.50 per child per night. Portable cookers should be carried.
People can also drive between Hanmer and the Wairau Valley on the Rainbow Road on the western side of Molesworth with the section through Rainbow Station also open from 28 December to 5 April. There is a fee for travel through privately-managed Rainbow Station, payable at the old Rainbow Homestead near Connors Creek: $25.00 per vehicle, $15.00 per motorcycle, and a gold coin for pushbikes.
Colin Davis, DOC South Marlborough Community Relations Programme Manager, ph +64 3 572 9100 or Trish Grant, DOC Nelson/Marlborough communications advisor, ph +64 3 546 3146.