Mesopotamia High Country Walk
DO NOT Miss This Tour
|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 the early pioneering characters have been immortalised in print in numerous books covering this era.
Day 1: Christchurch to Mesopotamia
After meeting your fellow walkers and your guide for the next four days, you depart Christchurch and enjoy a scenic drive out across the Canterbury Plains to Mesopotamia High Country Station, situated at the headwaters of the mighty Rangitata River. The drive takes approximately 2 hours and on arrival at Mesopotamia High Country Station you will collect your packed lunch and your walking gear and head out for today’s walk, a journey across “The Brabazon”, one of the large blocks of farmland on the Mesopotamia property.
Your walk takes you up and back into the hills behind the Mesopotamia Homestead, with stunning views back down the Rangitata River Valley, over the surrounding mountain ranges and on to the Southern Alps in the distance. You will enjoy your picnic lunch beside one of the many small streams or on a comfortable tussock cushion as you take in the view.
After lunch, you continue to explore Mesopotamia Station. Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of small sub alpine plants, birds and butterflies, and if luck is on your side, a sighting of a deer in the wild.
Returning late afternoon to the cottages, you will have time to freshen up before a hearty home cooked dinner prepared by your hostess and a relaxing evening in front of the fire with your fellow walkers.
Day 2: Mesopotamia High Country Station
After breakfast we head out to continue exploring Mesopotamia Station. Today’s walk concentrates on the trails around the homestead, and along the top terraces of the station, with a backdrop of the majestic “Two Thumbs’ mountain range of the Southern Alps. From here you can admire the views that attracted the writer Samuel Butler to the region, and which was the inspiration for his satirical novel “Erewhon”.
Mesopotamia Station covers an area of 25,000 acres and is home to over 11,000 merino sheep, 3,000 farmed deer and 500 beef cattle. The circular route today will take you from your accommodation, through the game park where you are likely to see magnificent fallow deer, red deer, chamois, thar and elk, and back to the cottages mid-afternoon, where you can relax until dinner.
For those keen to explore further, the farm outbuildings, the local school house and the site of Butler’s house all make for interesting historical landmarks. You spend a second night at the Mesopotamia Station Cottages.
Day 3: Mesopotamia - Peel Forest - Mt Somers
After breakfast we take a short walk to the final resting place of Dr Andrew Sinclair, botanist and Colonial Secretary to the New Zealand Government. Dr Sinclair was travelling with his good friend, the geologist Julius Von Haast, when he was swept away and drowned in the flooded Rangitata River, beside which he now lies.
Mid-morning we prepare to leave Mesopotamia Station and drive to Peel Forest, where you will walk the trails of the Peel Forest Scenic Reserve. Many of the original settlers of the region are buried in the small stone church that the original owner of Mt Peel Station, J.B A Acland, gifted to the community. We make a short stop at the church on our journey through to Peel Forest this morning.
Your walk today takes you on a journey through the Reserve, with its canopy of towering podocarps, rich in bird life. The Reserve has 500 hectares of virgin native forest, with several totara trees said to be around 1000 years old. Its mild moist climate is also ideal for ferns and around 36% of all native ferns grown in New Zealand are found in this area. You will be refreshed by the sound of birdsong and the fresh, cool air of the forest.
This evening we relax and dine at a comfortable country lodge and chalets in Mt Somers.
Day 4: Mt Somers - Hakatere - Christchurch
Today is our last day in the High Country, and our longest day of walking. After an early breakfast in your chalet, we journey by coach to the head of Lake Clearwater, travelling up the northern side of the Rangitata River Valley.
Originally Butler’s Mesopotamia Station stretched over both sides of the river and today we explore the area at the top of the river, referred to more commonly these days as Middle Earth. Our walk takes us out from Lake Clearwater, up into a tussock covered mountain valley to the shoreline of Mystery Lake, where we picnic beside the lake. Keep your eyes peeled for brown trout, the lake is a well-kept secret for local fisher folk.
Returning from Mystery Lake we follow the ridge line down above the Potts River, with amazing views of the valley below, a fantastic panorama back over Mesopotamia Station and the area we have travelled over the last 4 days.
Your return to Christchurch is around 7pm so if you are considering flying home today, please make sure you book a late evening flight to ensure you have plenty of time to spare.
Dates For Next Summer
- Jan 16: last 2 places
- Mar 20: filling fast-2 places left
We can build a tour especially for you or your group.
Mesopotamia Walkers Said....
“Thoroughly enjoyed every day!”
Angela and Peter, Auckland , March 2017
“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”
Jill, Whangarei, March 2013