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The old Orari Gorge farm buildings, South Canterbury, N.Z. 

Round the round world on a church mission. By Rev. G. Edward Mason, 1892 pg 378 -379
When I left my friend at Timaru, my destination was Orari Gorge, where I was to spend a night with Mr. Tripp at his sheep station. After an hour in the train, I found a boy with two horses waiting for me at the Orari station. I packed up a few things in a bundle, and we rode off. The view of the snowy range was lovely. It was about half-past four, and the distance to Orari Gorge was fourteen miles, so the sun had set long before we got in. But a crescent moon gave a fair light. The road was shingly and bad, and we had to ford several small creeks. The comfortable house is prettily situated just under the hills, which are covered with bush ; and the bush is full of bell-birds, and tuis, and Australian magpies, a kind of crow with white back and patches of white on the wings. We awoke in the morning to find snow falling heavily and the ground all white. After breakfast my kind host lent me strong boots and gaiters, and we tramped about to see the place. The sheep-run is a very large one. It extends some twenty or twenty-five miles, and includes all the " Four Peaks " Mountain. The sheep are merinos and half-breds. We saw a number of grand merinoes, with huge, curly horns like a Dutch woman's head-dress, made to walk through a solution of bluestone to prevent sheep-rot. There are two shearings, a dry and a wet. The wet shearing means the shearing of the ewes that have lambs, which are then weaned and are not old enough to be weaned at the earlier shearing, which takes place in November. The largest number ever shorn on this run in one year was forty-nine thousand. Every winter some two or even three thousand sheep are likely to be lost in the snow. After a heavy fall the shepherds go out to search for them and dig them out. They are discovered by the holes which their breath melts in the snow. For the convenience of the shepherds there are furnished huts at different points among the hills.

Orari Gorge Station, circa 1860s. Photographer unidentified, the home of the Tripp family. Reference Number  : PICT-000138 ATL
Orari Gorge homestead built by William Hudson in 1865, was taken over by Charles Tripp the following year.

The sheep are housed the night before they are shorn, in order to keep the wool dry, otherwise it would generate heat. The wool-shed is very like a large church. There is a centre gangway, and on either side of the gangway pens, like pews. Then outside the pews on either side is an aisle, where the shearers—twenty-eight in number— work. The sheep are passed out from the pens into the aisles, and when a sheep is shorn it is turned out through a window into a pen outside the shed ; and there the sheep are counted. A shearer gets 17s. 6d. or 18s. for shearing a hundred, and he can shear a hundred to a hundred and eighty a day. A boy at the end of the aisle collects the fleeces and puts them on to a sort of dresser, where a man inspects them and sorts them into first combing, second combing, first clothing, and second clothing, according to quality. The fleeces are pressed in a screw machine and shunted into a side chamber below, where they are packed in large bales. It takes three men to lift a bale. The bales are backed in large waggons, drawn by eight horses, to the station. At the wharf the bales are again pressed into one-half their bulk. The sheep are dipped once a year in some solution. The mob is driven in and round a race. A decoy cage full of sheep is used to tempt them on, and they fall into the dip, and a man pushes them well in. They scramble out on the other side and stand in the pens, which slope back to the dip, until they have done dripping. Mr. Tripp pays £3000 a year in wages. The men get from 20s. to 30s. a week, and all found. There is a resident blacksmith, a saddler, a black cook, and a rabbiter, who is paid 15s (shillings) and 6d (pence) a skin.

Timaru Herald 25 Nov. 1865 pg 5   Timaru Herald 1st Nov. 1871 page 3

The men sleep in two rooms, full of " bunks " like a ship. They make their own candles from mutton fat. Fifteen mules are kept. They are more hardy, more sure-footed, and better weightcarriers than horses. I saw two " sun-downers " sitting round a fire in their apartment. A sundowner is a traveller who begs for a lodging at sundown. By the hospitable rule of the country every traveller is allowed bed and breakfast. But they are expected to clear out in the morning. I rode part of the way up the gorge. The scenery is very fine. Mount Peel towers up to a great height above the swift Orari river. After lunch I drove to the station and reached Ashburton in the evening, and began the mission. Heavy sleet, hail, and snow fell at night, and there was a hard frost.

The Saddlery, May 2010
The saddlery / coach house used to contain a buggy. The fireplace was not for warming the grooms but to keep the harness pliable. A similar situation is still found at Blue Cliffs.


Charles Tripp first settled at Orari Gorge in 1855 and the station is now owned by his descendants, the Peacock family. A photo study of the historic buildings at Orari Gorge Station, up the Tripp settlement Rd, by M.T. This is private property 16km NW of Geraldine. Call Mr. and Mrs. R. Peacock to ask permission to view the historic buildings. The photos were taken 1st May 2010. "We had a glorious hour roaming the yards up there. It was wonderful...fresh air, native birds, historic buildings..a great experience with so many memories of my younger days up there wrote Margaret.  map

New Zealand Historic Places - category 1.  "...places of ‘special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value" under the New Zealand Historic Places Act 1993" The Historic Places Trust had taken over the buildings in the 1970s and finished restoration work in 2009. The only building left to repair was the stables. "Robert Smith, Acland and Tripp's head man, built the first of the farm buildings in 1859-60 - a Slab Cottage to live in and a Whata. Smith was followed by William Hudson, who was Tripp's station manager at Orari Gorge Station from 1865. Hudson added to the farm building complex further with the building of a Blacksmith's Shop, a Saddlery/Coach House and Stables. "

 Stables with southerly storm clouds.
 The three storey stables, c. 1870, with southerly storm clouds coming in. Sure looks like an old woolshed.
There are plans to restore this building once the money is raised.


The smithy c. 1866-67 is original, has a fireplace and a vent in the roof.

Timaru Herald, 16 March 1898, Page 1
TO PAINTERS. SEPARATE TENDEES wanted for PAINTING the External Wood (two coats) and Iron (one coat) Buildings, situated at Orari Gorge Station
1. Dwelling-house.
2. Men's House, Blacksmith's Shop, Phuta, Cowshed, and Shearers' Hut.
3. Stables and Woolshed.
4. Five Cottages and Ram House.
Linseed Oil provided and Workmen found in Food, but find themselves in Paint and all other materials. Tenders must reach Woodbury Post- Office or me before 5 p.m., TUESDAY, 29th March. The Lowest, or any Tender not necessarily accepted. Terms and Conditions can be inspected at the Homestead. BERNARD TRIPP, Orari Gorge Station, Woodbury, Geraldine.

Otago Witness 5 October 1899, Page 28
At Orari Gorge station last week the timber and earth cover of an old disused well gave way beneath a horse in a dray team, and the horse fell to the bottom, about 20ft. A trench was dug as a means of getting the animal out, but it died before the work was done.

Timaru Herald, 9 January 1908, Page 6 Station Life
A party numbering fifteen, consisting of members of the Conciliation Board and representative of employers and labour left Geraldine at 1 o'clock on Tuesday afternoon, and were driven by Mr N. Sherratt to Orari Gorge station whether they had been invited by Mr Tripp. The station homestead is situated about 10 miles from Geraldine by a good metalled road, and the drive is an interesting one all the way. Getting nearer to the station, the land is more stony, and the dry summer is making itself shown in the rather parched looking appearance of the pastures. An exceptionally hot nor'-wester was blowing at the time, and the heat reflected from the stones was keenly felt by those on the outside of the coach. Instead of driving straight to the homestead a detour was made from the main Gorge road in the direction of Woodbury. The object of this was to enable the party to see some of the station cottages where the shepherds are accommodated. They are all well built, and commodious dwellings and from the smiling, hearty faces of the children to be seen playing near-by it was quite evident that peace and contentment reigned within, as the visitors were fully convinced before they left was the case all over the station. A beautiful carriage drive is entered, adorned on both with ornamental and other trees and at the end, the stately homestead, snugly ensconced in the shelter of the Four Peaks range of hills, and above and beyond it for some distance is a strip of native bush. The residence itself an old one built out of hand sawn timber by the late Mr Tripp in the days when there was nothing else in sight but tussock and shingle. Here the party were received by the widowed mother of the present manager. Mr Bernard Tripp, and refreshments were provided. A start was then made to visit the accommodation provided for the men. The permanent employees quarters were first visited, and here everything that the most exacting employee could desire for comfort, and convenience was to be found. The sleeping apartments were roomy and well built, and a bath-room, lavatories and dining-room are provided. The senior men have the privilege of a single room each, and in the other rooms there are not more than two or three comfortable bunks. The "tucker" on Orari Gorge is noted far and near for its excellence and members of the Board had an opportunity of sampling the quality of the bread and cake, and from the cordial manner in which they shook hands with the cook afterwards it wad evident they appreciated the results of his labours. The greater part of the shearing on the station is done, but there is still another week's work. A visit was also made to the  smithy which is in charge of a blacksmith as capable in his line as the cook and he also has everything to be found in modern blacksmith's shop. ...

Entrance - end April. Beautful autumn colours.
Orari Gorge station is situated 10 minutes from Geraldine and five minutes from Woodbury. Woodbury has a primary school and Geraldine has pre schools, primary school and a high school as well as all necessary services and has rugby and cricket clubs.

February 2009 The Newsletter of the Governors Bay Community Association
When my great grandfather, Charles Tripp, built his homestead at Orari Gorge Station in the 1860s he planted a “lovely” row of sycamores up the driveway. The valley behind the homestead is filled with a very significant stand of native bush. For some years I suggested to my father that he ought to remove the sycamores as they were spreading into the bush, but he never did. After his death, my sister, who now owns the property, had them removed. She has already spent a considerable amount removing a large stand of them in the bush. She employs a tree surgeon three times annually to remove larger ones further in. Not so long ago she told me she would be spending the rest of her life pulling sycamores out of the bush. If you are thinking of retaining sycamores in your garden, then please consider your neighbours, who are unlikely to appreciate an annual crop of sycamore seedlings in their gardens, and the problem you may be causing future generations.
— Dick Tripp

Orari Gorge Station

This large homestead with a steeped pitched corrugated iron roof, at least eight fireplaces, ten gables, gable trim with finials, is situated below the historical farm buildings and is still surround by native bush and a lovely large sheltered garden with rhododendrons that peak at the end of October. The photo only captures a back corner of the old homestead. The homestead has been added on to over the years. Note the chimney pot and the native totara. A run holder rarely built a two-storied house unless he was a very large runholder. It was usually a one story house with a sitting room and square kitchen in the middle and a bedroom on each wing and along the front and one side a verandah about twelve feet wide.

Taken from the supplement to the Weekly News 31 May 1939 p46
Taken from the supplement to the Weekly News 31 May 1939 p046 

Orari Gorge Homestead built by William Hudson in 1865, was taken over by Charles Tripp the following year, and is still the home of the Tripp Family
Photographer: J. Waddington, 1979. Photo online at NZ Archives Advanced Search Agency AAQT.

TRIPP, Charles George, 1826-1897
Tripp was the son of the Rev. Charles Tripp of Silverton rectory and was born in Devonshire ... with J.B.A. Acland, Tripp stocked several runs in the back country of South Canterbury and settled at Orari Gorge in the 1860s. Tripp was for many years chairman of the Geraldine County Council and a prominent member. The station in 2010 is still in the family.

Timaru District plan for schedule of heritage buildings, structures, and sites and significant trees at Tripp Settlement Rd RS 3308 B include:
60 Orari Gorge Station Homestead
61 Orari Gorge Station Woolshed
90 Fagus sylvatica "Purpurea" (Copper Beech)
91 Hoheria angustifolia (Houhi Puruhi)
92 Eucalyptus viminalis (Manna Gum)
93 Eucalyptus viminalis (Manna Gum)
Gum trees that were among the first trees planted to provide shelter round the homestead.

Nov. 2009.
Ashburton Guardian, 20 April 1905, Page 2
The Copper Beech by Chas. W. Purnell
In an old fashioned garden a copper beech stood,
A tree so majestic ne'er grew in a wood.
Its boughs with their foliage spread proudly around,
Diffusing cool shadows over meadows of ground.
Many birds built their nests in the safest of nooks
Which they found, here and there, in its manifold crooks;
The zephyrs disporting made the leaves of the tree
Flit hither and thither, and dance merrily;
But when fiercely grasped by the hand of the storm
It shook, but resisted, throughout its grand form.

Round the life of the tree many memories twined,
And linked its own life with the life of mankind;
Each year with its seasons knitted closer the wreath,
And the sap of the tree flowed more richly beneath,
The spring gave it vigour, and the winter made strong
The heart of the beech to bear every wrong.

In days of hot summers, 'midst the cool of its shade,
Young children, and old, through the mellow hours played.
It watched their gay frolics, often melting in tears;
Their joys and their passions, and their quick-rising fears.
Its leaves' pleasant rustling gave a charm to their play,
And the unheeded moments, flowed swiftly away.

0, days that are golden when our youth wears its bloom,
And the child's callow fancies ripe beauty assume,
As the buds on the trees their green leaflets unfold,
When the spring is at hand, and its flag is unrolled.
0, days evanescent! yet the pleasures ye bring
Down the subsequent years in sweet echoings ring.

Queer letters and carvings made the trunk of the beech
A book with a story for those it could teach,
Strong youths and fair maidens their light fancies expressed
In letters and emblems on the tree's rugged breast;
And the birds overhead, in their wonderful way,
Chirupped, twittered, and warbled each with its own lay.

But the tree oft looked down on the low rustic seat.
That was restfully placed by its knotty, strong feet.
Perceived the staid matron, who had turned life's mid page,
In the ponderings of calm meditation engage.
When the summer's profusions grew scanty and sere,
And the rich hues of autumn began to appear,
Her fingers slow plying some delicate toil,
She mused on past pleasures, redeeming life's toil,
And the pharos of hope, with enlivening beam,
Made the future with flashes of happiness gleam.

As the months and the seasons rolled by in long train
There grew in this garden, again and again,
Verdant shrubs and gay flowers that bloomed each for its day
Then gave up its life to the doom of decay,
But the copper beech stood, with its proud, shaggy head,
The joy of the living, the shrine of the dead.
Ashburton, Canterbury, April 1,1905. —"Canterbury Times."

The much altered old woolshed has a new woolshed attached behind it. In May 2016 Orari Gorge Station was looking for an experienced shepherd due to two shepherds retiring, one after 37 years and one after 20 years work at Orari Gorge Station. The station ran 23,000 su of sheep, cattle and deer including a Hereford stud and a Romney stud. The property ranges from intensive flats to extensive hill country.

Star 14 November 1896, Page 7
Peel Forest. Our correspondent writes The forest here is a sight worth seeing. The native trees and shrubs, &c, are in beautiful leaf and flower, and the lawyer and clematis, both white and yellow, are very fine this year. Gardens, &c, are very backward owing to the long spell of exceedingly cold weather we have been having. The Te Wanahu and Orari Gorge mills have cut out their bush. Mr Button's mill is still working. Large quantities of firewood are passing down the road.

The 1½ story totara slab cottage originally constructed in 1859 with a door on the second floor to the outside but reconstructed in 1960. This door was used to lift furniture into the second story as the stairwell inside would have been to narrow.  Down Milton St., Nelson you can still see cottages built in the 1860s with this feature.  The two roomed extension  along the rear is an addition. 


The Whata, c. 1860 is a raised station store house that combines early European and Maori building influences -  English granaries and Maori food stores. Corrugated iron covers shingles. The brick was added ten years after construction. Has a rectangular hipped roof, a sloping side and a sloping end, so snow will slide off.  One advantage of a hip roof is that it has eaves all round that protect the walls from the weather and help to shade the walls from the sun, thus helping to cool the structure. A gable roof does not shade the walls at the gables.

The slab cadet building attached to the cottage.
The reconstructed slab cadet building attached to the cottage c. 1865 by Robert Smith, backed by native bush with cabbage trees to the right. The three roomed cottage was built of split totara slabs sealed with clay, and a thatched roof of snow grass.

Orari Cottage. Photo taken in 1979 by J. Waddington.  Photo online at NZ Archives Advanced Search Agency AAQT.

Press, 18 March 1910, Page 9 SALE AT ORARI GORGE.
The clearing sale at Orari Gorge was continued on Wednesday, when the attendance equalled that of the previous morning, and the set fashions of fine weather and full prices were still followed. The order of the catalogue was not followed exactly, for the implements were taken before lunch, and disposed of with most business like rapidity. A few pounds of paint worked wonders in the appearance of the various implements, and produced a most encouraging return of pounds sterling. Prices were as follow: —
Travelling huts, £15, £17 10s, £19, £29; drays, £3 10s, £7 5s. £6 10s; farm waggon, £15 seven-tine grubber, £8 10s; Giant cultivators (Duncan), £15, £15 10s, £8 10s, etc.; disc harrows, £7, £6 10s, £5 10s, £3, etc.: twitch harrows, £3 10s.
    The afternoon was occupied by the horse sale, at which some fine draught animals were offered, and sold with great facility. Competition was keenest for the brown mare Diamond by Prince Charlie, and the bay mare Molly by King of Quality, which realised £51 each, and were bought by Messrs McLeod and Hewson respectively. All the horses appeared to be full of beans, and the man who used the whip to show them off, had a considerably better job than their leaders. The first sign that all the chief favourites had gone was the mournful remonstrance of the auctioneer, "Eleven pounds I'm bid for Billy. Only eleven pounds." - The sound of the "only" was so moving that four ten-shilling bids came quickly, and Billy brought the fateful thirteen. "He'll die young yet at that price?' remarked an onlooker, "Not he, replied another. "I've looked in his mouth and he is seventy-five already." During the morning a table had been sold, and offering a convenient resting place, was sat upon by all and sundry until the legs were half driven into the turf; When the owner came to remove his property he found —like the boy who swallowed sixpence —that it was rather difficult to get it up.

Sheep dipping Orari Gorge, approx. 1899

Press, 1 December 1917, Page 5
Lance-Corporal Gillespie left with the 6th Reinforcements, and prior to was engaged shepherding at Messrs Tripps, Orari Gorge Station, Woodbury.

Books and Articles

Orari Gorge Station, South Canterbury, homestead by ‎G. L. Pitts - Farmhouses - 1966 - 2 pages  

Weekly News; 30 March 1966   p 43; Auckland City Libraries
John Barton Acland founded the Orari Gorge Station with Charles Tripp in 1866. A brief history of this huge property and the Tripp family, who are still the present owners.

Harper, Barbara Owen (Griffiths), (1908-1984) The Kettle on the Fuchsia: The Story of Orari Gorge / by Barbara Harper.  Wellington: A.H. & A.W. Reed, 1967 (reprint 1967).  Orari Gorge Station history owned by the Tripp family. 172 p., h/b, illustrated d/j, b/w photos, ill., maps on ends pages, bibliographical references and index.  History of Charles Tripp and his descendants on Orari Gorge Station, a station in South Canterbury, inland from Geraldine, over 112 years of prosperity, depression and development was largely resourced from six tin trunks of family records. In 1854 Barton Acland and Charles Tripp took possession of their land at Mt Peel. The cook, Mrs Smith hung her kettle on a fuchsia tree. Acland stayed at Mt Peel and Tripp moved on to Orari Gorge. The Tripp homestead is still one of South Canterbury's showpieces.

Harper, Barbara, 1908- Memoirs of L. O. H. Tripp
Tripp, L. O. H. (Leonard Owen Howard), 1862-1957
Timaru, N.Z.: Herald Printing, 1958.

Lovell-Smith, Mary : Beauty in necessity; Mary Lovell-Smith visits the kitchen garden at Orari Gorge Station. Ill Gardens ; Press, 26 Oct 2002; p.D20 49cm

Tripp, Ellen Shephard (Harper), 1834-1916. My early days.
Family origins, the voyage out, marriage and life at Mount Peel Station and Orari Gorge Station, etc. Reprinted 1920, 1929, 1995 (21 p.).
Printed by Geo R. Joyce, 1915. 16 p. The Lyttelton Times, 1916

Tales of pioneer women: collected by the Women's institutes of NZ
Airini Elizabeth Woodhouse, New Zealand Women ... - 1940 - 337 pages
TRIPP, OF ORARI GORGE By Mary Herbert Tripp, Arundel WI .This is the story of my husband's mother, old Mrs. Tripp, of Orari Gorge.

Blakiston, A.J. My yesteryears.
The Timaru Herald Company, 1952.
Blakiston, Arthur John 1862-?
Orari Gorge Station (N.Z.)

Tripp, John Mowbray Howard (-1940) Died aged 70 years at Silverton, Geraldine. Born Orari Gorge Station
Otago Daily Times Monday October 14 2005, p.1940 9 Mr J M H Tripp.

Bennett, Theophilus (1881-1956)
Otago Daily Times May 19 1956, p.4
Awarded Military Medal
Born Orari Gorge Station, Canterbury

Robert J. S. D. Searle, a resident at Orari Station in September 1895


South Canterbury NZGenWeb Project