Ghosts Of Days Gone By ER Imaging Photography

Everywhere I go on my photography journeys I can’t help thinking about all those that have been here before me. I think whenever you are alone with the elements, high on a ridge with the only noise the whispers of the wind, you can’t help be transported back to a simpler time held long ago.

It may have been simpler times, but there is no doubt it would have been undoubtedly unforgiving, brutal and deadly, only survived by the hardiest of men and women. What also may be different from long ago is the huge romanticism associated with living in the High Country, a view today, held by many, and incidentally, most never having visited this harsh wild beauty to try and understand her.

Many years ago crossing a swollen river with an old high country musterer, he told me his story. He was born in the High Country, but his mother moved him to Christchurch when he was 5 years old. There he remained throughout his schooling years. As soon as he could, he returned to the wide-open, empty, but also extremely full landscapes for the many years that followed. In short, his explanation about his lifetime love of the High Country was “when it is in you…it is in you”. This is the bit that I not only relate to but it also gives those around me somewhat of an explanation of why I always have such a yearning to always return to the mountains.

I, like my old friend, spent some of the best years of my childhood and youth living absorbed in the quiet solitude of the hills. Twenty years ago I met a woman who has become a special and lifelong friend to me. She very much lives in the hills, over time her home has become a second one to me with the door endlessly open in all my adversities. There is a private, no fuss, and quietly determined quality and toughness about many of the men and women who choose this way of life. For me, my pathway didn’t lead to a long and full-time life in the High Country but the experiences I have been able to have during my life on the land are among the most fulfilling, rewarding and challenging times I have been privileged to enjoy.

Life for those in the hills has unique challenges that only those that live there can truly understand. But as you drive through in your comfy vehicles with the heater on, spare a thought for those old-timers that have travelled before you. Presently we are in a time when the world is truly challenged and changed. The very existence of this way of life in our future may no longer exist. I can’t help but wonder what our old-timers would think.

As I write this blog today, I am on the Ferry crossing between the North and South. Tonight when I arrive at my friends I will be able to see every star in the sky and hear the whispers of the silent wind. And when I open my curtain in the morning, for a short time, I will yet again be surrounded by those beautiful magic mountains I love so much. Unless of course, my illusion gets smashed and it’s full-on crappy High Country weather…!

Molesworth Station is a high country cattle station. It is located behind the Inland Kaikoura Mountain range in the South Island‘s Marlborough District. It is New Zealand’s largest farm, at over 1,800 square kilometres (440,000 acres) and supports the country’s biggest herd of cattle. It also hosts government science programs, such as research into bovine tuberculosis and related research into possums. The station helps rabbit population reduction. The present station was formed in 1949 when a third station, St Helens, was added to Tarndale and Molesworth stations which had been amalgamated in 1938 after the runholders “walked off” the land. The three stations had once run around 95,000 head of sheep. The land was brought back into production by a major investment in rabbit control followed by revegetation of the barren ground. Cattle replaced the sheep. The land is owned by the Crown and is leased for farming. On 1 July 2005, administration of the land was handed to the New Zealand Department of Conservation.


  • Jenny

    March 18, 2022

    Great writing. Ahh i miss the wildness of the dry tough high country. Xxx

  • Megan Staunton nee Gullery

    July 21, 2022

    My father worked the Molesworth.
    We have hundreds of slides and photos from his time there. He loved it so much.
    His brothers also at some time or another worked there too!
    I even have some of his Ashes to spread there.
    He loved being there. Town was ok. But never enough for him.
    After coming into town he worked at the Canterbury Sales Yards. It was never enough. But he was always happy.