Traveling south to Queenstown

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Our lucky fairy
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Pine tree windbreak
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Sheared trees
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Sheep farm
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Typical house in the country
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Deer farm
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Country farms
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Gently rolling hills
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Getting closer to the Alps
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Closer yet to the Southern Alps

Brief History of the Mackenzie Country

The first people to enter the Mackenzie Basin were Maori. They quarried stone for tools, fished for eel, hunted birds, including moa and established summer camps along the rivers and lakes. Maori names were given to the inland lakes: Tekapo, Te Kaupururu (Alexandrina), Otetoto (MacGregor), Pukaki, Ohau.

Maori told white settlers of the grassy plains of the interior but the Mackenzie Basin really only became known in 1855 when James MacKenzie, a Scottish shepherd, was arrested for sheep stealing. Seeking a less conspicuous route for his flock he ventured inland and discovered the high country now bearing his name.

John Sidebottom, the man responsible for MacKenzie’s arrest, lodged the first lease application in the basin but failed to take up the 30,000 hectares within the six-month requirement. The lease was cancelled and the land was divided up among other runholders. Within 10 years the whole of the MacKenzie Basin, totaling 704,000 hectares, was taken up.

In 1857 John and Barbara Hay established Tekapo Station, the first sheep farm in the MacKenzie, on the shores of Lake Tekapo. When the lake is low, remains of the homestead are still seen on the walk to Pines Beach. An accommodation house was established in 1861, along with a ferry across the Tekapo River. Popular as a “bullocky” resting place, it became well known throughout the district. In 1881 the foundations of the first bridge were laid. When the Mount Cook - Hermitage Company formed, it ran a coach between Fairlie and the Hermitage, stopping for lunch at Lake Tekapo.

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