Adventure in the region
Join Molesworth Tours to visit one of New Zealand's most iconic and famous high-country stations, Molesworth station. Molesworth Station is arguably New Zealand's most famous high-country station. It is an area which is rich in history, has outstanding natural features, and a stunning and dramatic landscape.
At 180,476 hectares (approx. 500,000 acres) or roughly the same size as Stewart Island, it is New Zealand's largest farm. Today it is owned by the Department of Conservation and the farming operation is managed by Landcorp.
Sit back, relax, and let one of Molesworth Tours professional tour guides take you on a journey into this remote and stunning part of New Zealand in one of our 4x4 off-road buses which are fully air conditioned and have large windows for fantastic viewing. Throughout the tour you will enjoy a fun and informative commentary from one of our Kiwi guides. The opportunity to visit this New Zealand icon is not to be missed.
Pukatea Horse Trekking & Adventures is located at the St James homestead, a historical site built in 1880. A short distance from Hanmer and accessible almost all year round. The St James Conservation Area was one of the largest operating cattle and sheep stations in the country, dating back to 1862. This vast area is one of the most renowned wilderness areas with immense natural beauty.
Pukatea horses are waiting to give you a memorable horseback experience through the 78,000 hectares of mountain ranges, characterised by mixed beech forests, open river flats, tussock tops rising to rocky snow mountain tops with contrasts of stunning natural features from glaciated valleys, glacial fed streams, wetlands, lakes and high-altitude tarns.
The authentic experience immerses you in the vast history of the St James & Molesworth area leaving you with a deeper understanding of the past journeys and early exploration by Māori and pioneers when Aotearoa was first settled. Pukatea Horse Trekking has something for all abilities whether it be by stage coach or in the saddle of our trusting horses including ‘Freedom Trekking’ which allows experienced riders to go out on non-guided treks. For the novice rider, guided treks with our friendly and knowledgeable team are available.
Accommodation is available in the muster and DOC huts, as well as the historic cottages, as you explore the ranges from Jacks Pass in the south to the St Arnaud in the north and Molesworth Station in the east. Our stagecoach will bring you back in time along the trails that Māori and early settlers once took between the east and west coasts showcasing the beautiful native scenery.
Hurunui Hills is in North Canterbury - one hour from Christchurch, 30 minutes from Amberley, and 35 Minutes from Hanmer Springs. The little off-grid cabin sits in a remote spot on the steep hill country farm, with incredible views of the Southern Alps, and Hurunui and Waitohi Rivers. The splendid isolation of Hurunui Hills makes it a great place to switch off from the world.
Sheep and cattle graze between the native shrubland that covers the hills. The huge glass windows connect you to the natural world outside - lie in bed and watch the sun's rays light up the mountains in the morning. In the evening, enjoy spectacular skies as the sun sets beyond the horizon.
Small, but perfectly formed, the cabin contains everything you need for a cosy and atmospheric stay. A comfortable queen-sized bed, table for dining, sofa (fold-out for either two children or one extra adult) and wood burner are all contained within the cabin. A simple outdoor kitchen and shower are tucked into a covered area on one outer end.
The estate was once part of a 10,000-acre sheep station established in the grand manner of the times by William Acton-Adams, a well-known lawyer and financier, in 1888. Two years later in 1890, the Woolshed was constructed from native timbers.
The current and magnificent Tipapa homestead was completed by William’s son Herbert Acton-Adams, in 1928. Since their arrival at the end of 2019, your hosts Jane and Stewart Whiteside have undertaken a soft refurbishment of the Homestead and the venue is looking more stunning than ever! The Homestead offers the feeling of both elegance and heritage, perfect for a special event or for a romantic getaway in North Canterbury.
Mountain Biking & Walks
The Tombstone Trail is one of Hanmer Springs newest mountain biking tracks, five years in the making and constructed mostly by hand with volunteers completing 90 percent of the work, including volunteers from the Track Network Group and the Hanmer Springs Mountain Bike Club. Tombstone is a world class track with some of the best views around, making it a full experience.
Located in the Hanmer Forest Park, the new trail adds to an existing network that caters to all ages and abilities. The Tombstone trail boasts a hardy 4km, advanced, technical single-track that provides 185m of climbing to the highest point (698m) followed by a thrilling 240m descent with multiple twists, turns and drops through a mix of native and plantation forest to link up with the Jolliffe Saddle trail.
Only 20 minutes inland from the historic Hurunui Hotel on the way to Hanmer Springs, Island Hills Station hosts guests on a well-marked private tramping trail which is easy to follow for those with reasonable fitness and capability.
The Island Hills tramp is like no other in the country with such a diverse range of landscapes and vegetation that change continuously throughout your experience. Visitors have the option of a self-guided, self-catered experience or can include guided and catered options. The lodge style accommodation facilities are fun and unique, with fully serviced kitchen, BBQ and dining facilities, bunk beds and plenty of privacy. The luxury of hot showers, super comfortable beds, pillows, fresh pillowcases and pack transport each day makes for a stress-free adventure.
Island Hills Station have made a commitment to low input free-range farming while protecting and enhancing nature. The farm includes vast un-grazed mountain areas and boasts a 600-hectare QE II Open Space Covenant, the largest of its type in the Canterbury district. To protect the trees and shrubs the Island Hills team control introduced possums and minimize numbers of wild deer and pigs. New Zealand’s unique native birds are vulnerable to attack from introduced predators such as stoats and rats which need regular removal – you can even sponsor a humane trap to help the team on their conservation journey.
Food & Drink
New ownership means a fresh new look! The new and improved Amberley hotel is an eyecatcher, decked out in teal. The hotel is host to 11 fully refurbished rooms upstairs and a new restaurant, bar, wine and grocery section and garden bar on the ground floor.
The Hotels revamp has seen a fresh take on the classic country hotel and is the perfect starting point for a North Canterbury wine tour or a stop on the way to Hanmer.
Waipara Hills wine making philosophy is simple; it’s about creating balance, encouraging the characteristics of each season’s fruit to shine, and celebrating the Waipara Valley vineyards. The result is wine that is rich, textural, and complex.
From the vineyard to the winery, the Waipara Hills team are hands on, pouring a little of themselves into what they do. A venue you can't (and don't want to miss) on the main highway from Christchurch to Kaikoura or Hanmer Springs, enjoy seasonal dishes with fresh local ingredients where possible, which complement their Waipara Hills wines. Check out their Summer Bruch and Lunch menus on their website.