* Due to fluctuating exchange rates, prices may vary at the time of booking if a tour is based on a different currency from its home country currency.
For dates, availability & customisations Enquire or Book
Tours run: November - April (Tuesdays - weekly)
An average level of fitness. Walk 7km, Bike 15kmWell formed tracks and roads with very little incline Mild
An average level of fitness . Walk 12km, Bike, 25kmWell formed tracks and roads with average incline Moderate
Above average level of fitness. Walk 20km, Bike 45kmFormed tracks and roads with average to steep inclines at times Challenging
Above average level of fitness Walk 20+km, Bike 50+kmPartially formed tracks and roads with some steep inclines and possibly some easy river crossings
“Very relaxing, beautiful scenery-really away from it all. Excellent guide and hostess. Felt like a longer holiday”
“A great trip for anyone with a good fitness level who wants to get out in the high country for a good look, hear the history, see the geology, botany and enjoy being with like-minded folk. I was sorry when it was over-thank you Tuatara Tours for organising it”
The Mesopotamia High Country Walk is an awe-inspiring, four day fully guided walking tour, which includes the Mesopotamia High Country Station and the spectacular Peel Forest Scenic Reserve in the South Island of New Zealand. You will experience soaring landscapes, snow capped mountain ranges and wide open tussock covered tundras.
High country stations have a unique part in the history of New Zealand and early pioneering characters have been immortalised in print in numerous books covering this era.
What's Included - All accommodation - All meals - Fully guided - Free Tuatara Tours kit bag - Luggage transport each day - Walking poles - Comprehensive safety systemsItinerary & Map
Tours run: November - April (Tuesdays - weekly)
We can customise tours to suit.
We can help you prepare and evaluate your fitness.
You are transported to Mesopotamia High Country Station from Christchurch, which is situated at the headwaters of the mighty Rangitata River.
The day is a unique experience – walking across the Brabazon near the historic Mesopotamia Station Homestead, looking back towards the Hakatere Station, and taking in the remote and stunning backdrop of the bold mountains. You will also enjoy the many tumbling streams as you wander along…… hearing about the adventures of the original pioneers.
After a peaceful lunch you will continue your exploration of the grand Mesopotamia property, seeing the interesting variety of native flora and fauna.
This evening you will have an overnight stay in the Mesopotamia Station cottages. Here you will enjoy the rustic charm of the character buildings and relax in the secluded setting amongst the impressive Oregon Pines.
You will enjoy the pleasures of a good country meal, in front of a cosy fire.
Your adventure will continue this morning after breakfast, when you are guided along the top terraces of Mesopotamia Station, with a backdrop of the majestic “Two Thumbs” mountain range of the Southern Alps. From here you can admire the views that attracted Samuel Butler to the area…….and was the inspiration behind the writing of the satirical novel Erewhon.
Part of your walk is spent within the game park where you are likely to see fallow deer, red deer, chamois, tahr and elk. This 25,000 acre family run is home to over 11,000 merino sheep, 3,000 farmed deer and 500 beef cattle.
You will again be accommodated in the cottages of the Mesopotamia Station.
Your adventure will continue after breakfast, when you will visit the final resting place of Dr Andrew Sinclair, botanist and Colonial Secretary to the New Zealand Government. You will hear an intriguing story of how he lost his life (1861), when crossing the Rangitata River with his good friend, geologist Julius Von Haast.
You then go (mid-morning) to Mount Peel, where you will walk the trails of the Peel Forest Scenic Reserve. The Reserve has a wide range of native flora, and the mild moist climate is ideal for ferns (around 36% of all native ferns grown in New Zealand are found in this area). You will be captivated by the canopy of towering podocarps, which host a rich variety of native bush and bird-life underneath.
The scenic features include the Acland Falls, Deer Spur, Fern Walk and Mills Bush……where you will enjoy the beautiful range of flowering shrubs.
The nearby lovely Rangitata River is renowned for its world-class salmon fishing.
The evening is spent relaxing and enjoying the cuisine in a comfortable lodge, near Mount Somers.
Known for special extra touches such as complimentary beverages, designer linen, hand crafted accessories, boutique wines (may vary at each property)
After breakfast you will head to Lake Clearwater, which is situated in a tussock covered mountain valley, at the foot of the Southern Alps.
While gazing at the surrounding high mountain peaks and enjoying nature at its best, you will walk up until you reach the shoreline of the enchanting Mystery Lake…….where you will enjoy your picnic lunch. You should keep your eyes peeled for brown trout (there are a lot of them!)……. among the bull-rushes growing in the shallows of the lake.
This afternoon you will be guided along the ravine above the Potts River, with great views of the valley below and a fantastic panorama of Mesopotamia Station. The walk today finishes at the Potts River Bridge……..but if time allows, you will also walk to the top of Mount Sunday (well known as the village Edoras in Peter Jackson’s blockbuster film The Lord of the Rings).
Your high country walking experience then ends with a drive across the South Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.
You will enjoy great local cuisine; continental breakfasts and hearty packed lunches during the day, and either restaurant meals or wholesome home-cooked fare prepared by your host/hostess in the evenings.
If you have any dietary issues or food allergies, we are happy to cater for these, please advise the office of details when you make your booking.
All meals are included in your tour cost. Wine and other beverages are available to be purchased during dinners.
Our guides are very experienced, friendly walkers and bikers who love to share their knowledge of New Zealand’s flora and fauna and local history. They all hold current first aid certificates, passenger driving licences and are the very best people to ensure your experience will be one to remember.
To ensure you get the very best out of your journey with the least of fuss, we provide you with a calico kit bag full of useful goodies on the morning of your tour departure.
Tuatara Tours transports all your luggage for the duration of the tour.
All you carry is a small day pack with your personal gear, drink and lunch.
We do the Rest
For your own safety there are a few things that you must bring yourself:
Other things we recommend you bring are:
To ensure maximum safety for all, our guides are certified first aiders and fully qualified drivers. Tuatara Tours operate under a Safety and Risk Management Plan which is regularly audited and approved by a qualified and independent auditor.
On the Mesopotamia High Country Walk we provide you a comprehensive field and history summary of the area.
The station gained its early fame from the first owner – Samuel Butler – the renowned English writer and author of the brilliant satire Erewhon…. which was based on the wonderful landscapes found in the area. Your knowledgeable and friendly guide will entertain you with the history of Butler and the resilient families who broke in and farmed this wonderful land.
Mesopotamia high country station is located in the headwaters of the Rangitata River. The station was named by Samuel Butler from the Greek words mesos and potamos, meaning ‘the land between two rivers’, originally describing the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (in modern Iraq).
Samuel Butler – Mesopotamia’s founder and most famous owner, set out from England aboard the Roman Emperor in early 1860. He came with the intention of increasing his capital by sheep farming, but by the time he reached Lyttelton all the known sheep country in Canterbury had been taken up.
In effect, he could either buy the goodwill of a sheep station at the current rate of £100 per 1000 acres, or try to find unoccupied land which could be taken up at a cost of £1 per 1000 acres.
He purchased a good horse and travelled to the headwaters of the Rakaia and the Waimakariri without success. He then explored Forest Creek, a tributary of the Rangitata River. Here were some 5000 acres of unclaimed country. In May he added another 5000 acres of unoccupied land on the southern slopes of the Sinclair Range. He now owned the nucleus of his Mesopotamia Station.
In October 1860 he moved to the present Mesopotamia homestead site where he built a sod and a cob cottage and lived there for the next three and a half years. He carted up a piano in a bullock dray, and with his books and pictures he created a small oasis of comfort and civilisation in this remote corner of Canterbury.
‘I went up my mountain in a fog, and then got above the mist; going higher and higher, I would look down upon a sea of whiteness, through which would be thrust innumerable mountain-tops that looked like islands. I am there now, as I write, I fancy that I can see the downs, the huts, the plain and the river bed – that torrent pathway of desolation, with its distant roar of water, oh wonderful! Wonderful! So lonely and so solemn, with the sad grey clouds above and no sounds save a lost lamb bleating upon the mountain-side, as though its little heart were breaking.’
Samuel Butler, Erewhon
Mesopotamia is surrounded by the majestic Two Thumbs mountain range of the Southern Alps and the huge braided Rangitata River.
The surrounding area provided the backdrop to many scenes from the Lord of the Rings movie.
Mesopotamia Station is a family-run and traditionally farmed, working sheep, deer and cattle farm, now diversifying into other high country ventures, including hunting for Thar, Deer, Chamois, and Red Stag.
It is about 457 metres (1800 ft) above sea level rising to 2660 metres (7500 ft). Its size is just over 25,000 acres and currently has 11,000 merino sheep, 3000 deer and 500 cattle. Tourism and hunting concession areas cover some 75,000 acres.
Mesopotamia owners have developed a selected range of 100% pure Merino garments for use in the town or out on the hills. The garments were designed by the farm staff.
Both the design and the colours are specifically chosen to reflect the New Zealand high country – black and deep forest green.
(ASK YOUR GUIDE FOR MORE INFORMATION)