Acheron House

Acheron Accommodation House (1863)

Settling the southern interior

Like their Polynesian predecessors, most Europeans initially stuck to the coast – until first pastoralism and then gold mining set provincial governments keen to encourage settlement racing to cobble together basic infrastructure for the runholders, drovers, shearers and miners now infiltrating the interior. In 1862 Nelson’s government granted runholder Thomas Carter £300 cash and grazing rights for a ‘House of Accommodation, Acheron Valley’, set strategically on a terrace at the junction of the Acheron and Clarence rivers. Six others sprouted up between ‘Tophouse’ at the head of the Wairau Valley and ‘Hasties’, south of the Hurunui River. Carter agreed to keep the Acheron open to travellers from September till April each year.

Ned James built the Acheron in 1863 from materials at hand, cob for the walls and thatched tussock for the roof. It was no Hilton - the privy at the end of the verandah was a later addition - and some of the guests were very rough diamonds. In its later years it served as an out-station of the St Helens run. Nevertheless, the Acheron helped to open up the southern interior and it is now treasured as a reminder of this process. The former Department of Survey and Land Information re-roofed it in corrugated iron and Department of Conservation and Heritage New Zealand volunteers have conserved the rest of the building.

Further information

This site is item number 28 on the History of New Zealand in 100 Places list.



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