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Molesworth

Last Modified: 1-9-2021 10:10

Molesworth
Molesworth
© Christopher Cookson  License this image

Molesworth, 130km southwest of Blenheim is New Zealand's largest farm. Located between the Spencer Mountains and the Kaikoura ranges, Molesworth covers 180,000 hectares, or about 17 percent of Marlborough's total land area, and is able to support over 10,000 head of cattle. Prior to European arrival, Ngāi Tahu established trails in the area. First discovered by European settlers as a result of the need for a stock route to Canterbury, Molesworth originally consisted of four separate runs which had been mismanaged, and were surrendered to the Crown between 1938-1949. Overstocking, repeated burning, and plagues of rabbits all contributed to massive erosion. New management techniques were introduced, burning was ended, and mixed sheep-cattle farming replaced sheep alone. As a result of these changes, Molesworth is now self sufficient, and both a conservation and farming success. The climate is difficult, with a short growing season, and frosts 255 days of the year. Rainfall varies from 668mm in the east to 1800mm in the west. Temperature ranges from 30 degrees Celsius in summer to a low of -10. Snowfalls of 100mm occur in winter.

The headwaters of the Awatere River are located within Molesworth, and another significant river, the Acheron River, and its tributaries including the Saxton and Servern also flow through the area.

Vegetation consists of tall grasslands and beech forest. In Jollies Pass scenic reserve, subalpine scrub is common. Large numbers of bird species frequent Lake Tennyson and the Tarndale lakes. Brown trout and salmon are found in the rivers. Historic buildings include a Cob cottage built in 1865 by John Murphy, and Acheron cob Accommodation House built in 1863 as a resting place for stockmen and travelers between Nelson and Canterbury.

An unsealed road through Molesworth to Hanmer is open to the public between Labour Weekend and Easter, conditions permitting, but can be closed at short notice due to fire risk or flooding.

Cite this page

Molesworth. (2021) Retrieved October, 17, 2021, from https://www.marlboroughonline.co.nz/marlborough/information/geography/high-country/molesworth/

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