We have not yet begun to develop trails or facilities for horses and riders on Molesworth Station. It is an enormous, iconic and stunning piece of the High Country. While DOC does allow horse access by permit (see below), we strongly recommend you drive through before you consider planning a trek in this area.
As DOC says, Molesworth Station is a land of extremes. This vast landscape contains scree-scarred mountains, wide river valleys and tussock slopes. The 180,787 ha station is New Zealand’s largest farm, running the country’s biggest herd of beef cattle, numbering up to 10,000. The 1347 m Island Saddle is the highest point on a publicly accessed road in New Zealand.
The weather here ranges from scorching summers to freezing snowy winters.
Public vehicle access is restricted to drier periods, but can be closed at any time due to safety risks, bad weather, threats to conservation, track damage or stock movements. Check here and, for general alerts, check here.
Established trails through Molesworth were used by Ngāi Tahu for food gathering and access between the west coast – an important source of pounamu – and the east coast. Māori described these routes to early European settlers, who well into the 20th century droved their stock over the Station’s high passes from Marlborough and Nelson to Canterbury.
From the 1850s the main inland route between Nelson/Marlborough and North Canterbury ran through the heart of Molesworth. The old cob accommodation houses at Tophouse, Rainbow, Tarndale and Acheron are reminders of this.
Horses on Molesworth Station
At all times of the year, you need to apply for an activity permit to ride through Molesworth.
Routes and logistics need to be very carefully planned.