Foothills to Inland Kaikoura Range

Molesworth Muster MTB Event

An Introduction

Molesworth is a spectacular and iconic high county reserve with a rich farming history. In New Zealand, the name Molesworth evokes the nation’s high-country farming identity– musterers and stockmen and their dogs working livestock in vast tussock landscapes. It may seem isolated, but it has a long human history.


Established trails through Molesworth were used by Ngai Tahu Maori for food gathering and access between the west coast – an important source of jade (pounamu) – and the east coast. Maori described these routes to early European settlers, who well into the 20th century droved their stock over Molesworth’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. The stock routes never subsequently became public roads and throughout most of the 20th Century, Molesworth remained terra incognita to the vast majority of New Zealanders. Molesworth today is an amalgamation of four separate pastoral leases – Molesworth, Tarndale, St Helens and Dillon – abandoned to the Crown between 1938 and 1949 because of rabbit infestation, stock losses in disastrous snowfalls, and economic recession. Molesworth has remained in Crown ownership and gradually recovered from its earlier desolation, thanks to extensive rabbit control and over-sowing of some 37,000 ha in the 1950s and 60s. Today up to 10.000 cattle graze on lands that almost a century ago were being reduced to a desert by millions of rabbits and 90,000 sheep. Its transformation into a recreation reserve has opened up more opportunities for people to experience this remote area.

On November 6th this year the Molesworth Muster Mountain Bike Race will once again be held after an 11 year hiatus. The Hawarden-Waikari Lions Club is proud to be able to run this event and is taking great care to ensure its success. Many riders have already indicated that this is one event they would really like to participate in, so interest is high. Numbers are restricted so participants should register early to avoid disappointment. The proceeds from this event will be distributed to funding needs in our community.

Travelling Over Wards Pass

It is important that all documents have been read and accepted before submitting your entry.