Step back in time with us and ride a real stage coach, through some of New Zealand's most striking scenery.

Rubicon Valley Stage Coach Line
Ride in real history

Today's main highway from Christchurch to the West Coast across the Southern Alps is a credit to our pioneering history of New Zealand.

The highway is steeped in history and has seen the development of travel within the South Island from the Stage Coaches, Railway to the modern vehicles of today.

Today's generation can travel in comfort so it is unimaginable what the journeys over the Southern Alps by Stage Coach would have been like. We can only imagine that it would have been a journey to remember.

There were many Stage Coach Companies in New Zealand with many taking the Cobb & Co name. The main run over the Southern Alps also included the Mail run. From Christchurch the Stage Coaches would begin there journey from the main Stage Coach Depot in Christchurch, located on the corner of Cashel Mall and High Street. The journey followed the Old West Coast Road through to today's State Highway 73 Great Alpine Highway to Springfield before traveling in to Kowai Bush to rejoin today's highway before beginning the climb over the Southern Alps to the West Coast.

Along the journey there were various stops to allow the changing of horses which played a major part of the development of towns throughout the district. Springfield originally known as Kowai Pass until 1870 which is the last town before you start ascending the Southern Alps was an important staging place providing accommodation when the Cobb & Co Stage Coaches operated with not only passenger accommodation but stables for the horses.

The Concord Stage Coach that arrived in New Zealand on the 1800,s became the main model used over our highway due to its ability to travel over rough terrain.

Most Coaches had either a 4, 5, 6 or 7 horse team that would be changed at every stage coach changing station. This entailed a large requirement of horses to cover the full journey.

Travelers would either be seated inside the Coach or on top where there would be seating to the rear and beside the driver. Mail and luggage would be stored in the rear luggage compartment or on top. Most the Coaches were open aired with only canvas drop curtains to help keep out the rain and wind. .

The Stage Coach era between the east and west coasts of the South Island ceased operation approximately in 1923 with the Midland Railway opening of the Otira Tunnel.

History brought to life

The crew of the Antarctic relief ship "The Morning" were entertained with a picnic at Otarama on 21 November 1902.

THE OTARAMA PICNIC
A GLORIOUS START

The weather conditions which prevailed this morning when the picnic train left for Otarama conveying numbers of citizens and their guests from the Morning were almost as perfect as the most ardent well wisher of the expedition could have desired.

A warm, sunny morning, whose heat was tempered by a gentle refreshing breeze, proved sufficient inducement to the citizens of Christchurch to go forth and enjoy the day in one of Canterbury's brightest beauty spots. With their guests they filled the nine large carriages which formed the special train. Punctually at nine o'clock the train got away, and, going by way of Rangiora, Oxford and Sheffield, reached Otarama about 11.30.

As the day wore on the breeze freshened gradually, and its attendant cloud drift would probably obscure the splendid views to be obtained from Otarama and the adjacent country, but the weather continued bright and fine.

Source: Star , Issue 7563, 21 November 1902, Page 3

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Two thrilling stage coach tours to choose from

(1) Otarama Lookout Stage Coach Tour

From Rubicon Valley Tourist Centre you will take a 15 minute transfer traveling though the center of Rubicon's High Country Sheep Farm to the Rubicon Valley Staging Post.

You then begin your journey, traveling back in time, boarding the Rubicon Valley Stage Coach to the Otarama Lookout.

This is Canterbury's own 8th wonder of the world:

Tour includes

Price

Optional Activities

(2) Otarama Lookout Stage Coach / Jet Boat Combo

From Rubicon Valley Tourist Centre you will take a 15 minute transfer traveling though the center of Rubicon's High Country Sheep Farm to the Rubicon Valley Staging Post.

You then begin your journey, traveling back in time, boarding the Rubicon Valley Stage Coach to the Otarama Lookout.

This is Canterbury's own 8th wonder of the world:

Tour includes

Price

Optional Activities

Visa, Mastercard and Eftpos accepted.

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Contact Rubicon Road, Kowai Bush, RD Springfield, New Zealand Phone 03 318-4848 or 03 318-8886