Blenheim — Hanmer Springs (3-5 days, 207km)
The Molesworth Muster Trail follows the Acheron Road through Molesworth Station, the largest and most remote working farm in New Zealand.
The 207km journey from Blenheim to Hanmer Springs follows the Awatere River, then crosses Wards Pass to follow the Acheron River to where it joins the Clarence.
This cycle trail will provide you with a surprising and unforgettable journey through spectacular scenery and wide-open landscapes.
This is a land of shifting screes, wide grasslands and steep hillsides. Terminal and lateral moraines, glacial outwash plains, hanging valleys and waterfalls, cirque basins, tarns and arêtes provide stark reminders of the region’s past ice ages.
The historic Molesworth Cob Cottage (1866) and Acheron Accommodation House (1862) were part of a chain of accommodation houses placed to serve early travellers using the stock routes – and as you cycle up the valley, it’s not hard to imagine the isolation and determination they experienced.
However, for the leisurely cyclist, there is plenty of opportunity to stop along the way for lunch, a spot of fishing, bird watching, a dip in one of the many the swimming holes or to take some photos.
RIDING THE TRAIL
Starting in Blenheim, head south from the i-SITE and railway station and turn left out of the car park. This takes you to a dead-end where you will drop down on to a shared walking and cycling path that runs alongside the Taylor River. Head right and cross the river at the first bridge, following the path for approximately 5km as far as Wither Road.
Turn left on to Wither Road and then right at the first intersection on to Taylor Pass Road. Stay on this road, which travels up over Taylor Pass and down into the Awatere Valley.
Hang a right on to Awatere Valley Road and follow your nose all the way through the valley and Molesworth Station.
Approaching Hanmer Springs you’ll come to a 3-way junction at the top of Jacks Pass. If you’re keen for more cycling, you could always hang a right here onto the Rainbow Trail, a 112km cycle trail through to St Arnaud. You might want to restock supplies in Hanmer first.
Heading left down Clarence Valley Road, you’ll enjoy a long downhill into the Hanmer Springs township and the famous hot thermal springs, which will do much to help your recovery.
Blenheim is 28km south of Picton (and the Wellington ferry) and Hanmer Springs is 134km north of Christchurch.
There are bus services available to and from both destinations. The Coastal Pacific train also runs through Blenheim daily travelling from Picton to Christchurch and back.
This cycle route is generally open to public access from Labour Weekend until Easter, subject to weather condition and fire danger. To request access outside of the open period, please contact the Department of Conservation’s South Marlborough Area Office for an access permit.
The Molesworth Muster Trail travels through a remote area of New Zealand. You will need to plan your ride in advance and go well equipped.
This cycle route is graded advanced. It has steep gradients and the surface is well maintained gravel. A reasonable level of fitness is required and knobbly tyres are a must.
Molesworth Station is a working farm and access through it is a privilege not a right, so please keep to the road and do not venture on to farmland. Leave gates as you find them and respect stock and property.
The Molesworth Care Code provides more information on how you can best respect the environment through which you will be travelling.
This is a wilderness cycling experience and safety is your responsibility. Visit the Department of Conservation website for more information to help you prepare for this ride.
SERVICES & ACCOMMODATION
Both Blenheim and Hanmer Springs have a wide range of services and accommodation available at the start or end of your ride. However, there is no shopping in between, so you will need to carry all your supplies.
Basic campsites are currently the only option for independent travellers. Those looking for an easier ride should take a guided cycle tour, which is catered and provides more comfortable bed and breakfast accommodation at farms along the route.
Molesworth Cob Cottage. Between Blenheim and the entrance to Molesworth Station, camping is permitted at Blarich Recreation Reserve and a toilet is located at the Hodder Bridge Picnic Area, maintained by the Marlborough District Council.
Molesworth Cob Cottage and Acheron Accommodation House are the only sites where camping is permitted on Molesworth Station (maintained by DOC).
Toilet facilities are available at every campsite along the route.
Water can be drawn from the river and streams along the route. While it is mostly suitable for drinking, it is recommended that water is boiled (3 min) filtered or treated before drinking.
There is no mobile phone reception outside Blenheim and Hanmer Springs.
Visit the Department of Conservation website for more details about the accommodation and other facilities available along this route.
Best time to ride
The best time to ride the Molesworth Muster Trail is when it’s open to public access (from 28 December 2011 to 9 April 2012). While an access permit can be obtained outside of the open period, cyclists are advised against riding this trail during winter or after heavy rainfall.
Be prepared for sudden changes in the weather and always carry warm, wind and waterproof clothing.
The Molesworth endures a continental climate of extremes. Hot and generally dry summers are followed by harsh winters. Snow may fall at any time of the year and can cover the property for up to two months over the winter. The Acheron Road can be closed due to weather or fire danger at any time.
If you’re cycling outside the open period, on an access permit, please keep DOC updated if your plans change (to avoid unnecessary search parties if the bad weather hits).