Magical Lake Tennyson
The Molesworth Tour Company
Molesworth Tour Company takes tourists through the Awatere Valley and into the iconic Molesworth Station.
The landscape is a major attraction to international and local tourists and new adventures continue popping up to cater for varying audiences.
One of the growing areas is four-wheel drive touring and the Molesworth Tour Company has received rave reviews after taking its first guided tag-along journeys this year.
Tourists love gaining access to untouched land including private farms. Government-owned Molesworth Station is one of the most unique and holds a special place for many local tourists.
Natural attractions are widely regarded as New Zealand’s key drawcard for international visitors, and according to figures from the Ministry of Toursim nature-based tourism continues to grow.
In 2006, it is estimated that tourists took part in 15.7 million nature-based activities, with international tourists making up 42% and 58% by domestic tourists.
Over the next seven years, 2008-2014, New Zealand tourism is forecast to continue to grow from 2.46 million international visitors in 2007 to 3.08m in 2014 – a 26% increase.
Geoff and Lee Swift, Molesworth Tour Company, have been sharing the high country landscape with tourists for more than two decades.
Working with high country farmers along the way, the company offers tourists a real farm experience.
Their latest addition to the programme of travelling in 4WDs has received a marvellous reception on the first two and they look forward to taking four trips this coming season.
Swift has established special arrangements with landowners to gain exclusive access to private farms in the Marlborough high country on the way to both Molesworth and Rainbow Stations.
It is a unique back-country experience crossing five different private farms right through to the upper reaches of the Awatere Valley.
Guests enjoy traditional farming hospitality with shearer style accommodation and home-cooked meals.
Each tour is led by an experienced local guide, with two-way radio vehicle contact provided throughout.
The tag-along tour was the highlight of the South Island trip for Lyn and Lloyd Ferris, Rotorua. Aside from the great 4WD driving, they found the shearers’ quarters very comfortable and particularly enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of all the hosts.
Visitors get an opportunity they would not otherwise have, and Swift receives positive feedback about the farm hospitality and how great it is to socialise with the landowners. He feels privileged to be able to share the land with other people.
Last year the Swifts also hosted their first cycling tour – a five-day programme aimed at people over 50. Groups of four to eight have a cycling guide and can bring their own bikes or have them provided.
The Molesworth to Hanmer road is only open to the public from December 28 to April 1, but the Molesworth tour company has special concessions from October 1 to May 31.
The company runs a range of sightseeing tours with transport provided from one day to four days.
Farmers in Marlborough have found a little bit of farm tourism can provide a reliable extra revenue stream considering ailing wool and sheepmeat prices in recent years.
Swift is proud his business helps deliver off-farm income, which is particularly precious in years of drought and tough commodity prices.
Simon and Lynda Harvey who run 3000 Merinos and 120 beef cattle on Glen Orkney Station find tourism a practical way to supplement their farm income.
They offer visitors on the Molesworth tours a beautiful home-cooked lunch featuring roast Merino hogget.
While it remains a small part of the business, Harvey sees it as a bit more reliable because it is not affected by poor seasons or fluctuating commodity prices.
He also finds tourism an effective way to educate urban people about farming to help bridge the growing city v country divide.
Further up the Awatere Valley, Trish and Robert Oswald have opened up their home on Duntroon Station to homestays for 11 years. The Oswalds’ welcoming attitude is part of successful farm tourism.