Horseback riding holidays at Beaumont High Country Experience in Southland, New Zealand, offer more than just a unique sheep mustering experience on the 20,000-acre sheep and cattle station. Head to the 160-year-old New Zealand ranch and you’ll discover Flecks Hut, a small, unassuming building with a big history.
Guests ride out to Flecks Hut
Back when the hut was inhabited by the Fleck family more than 130 years ago, horseback riding holidays were non-existent at Beaumont. Before the Flecks even came to the live at the ranch in the 1870s, Beaumont was farmed as early as 1850, making it one of the first runs to be taken up in Southland. At that time it was managed by Captain William Stevens, an ex-whaling man who officially took over Beaumont Station in 1857 after it was purchased by the government following growing concern over ‘squatter’ farming on Southland. Stevens purchased two properties, Beaumont and Fairlight, in partnership with his half brother, Captain Howell. When the partnership dissolved after a couple of year, Stevens took full ownership of Beaumont, leaving Fairlight to his half brother. Captain Stevens is synonymous with much of the early history of nearby township Riverton, the first settlement in Southland, his sisters being the first white women to land in that part of New Zealand.
And so it was several decades later in the late 1870s when the Fleck family came to live at Beaumont. John and Mary Fleck had emigrated from Ireland in 1862, and for many years John worked as a shepherd on the adjacent Dunrobin Station. It was only when he was offered work at Beaumont as a boundary rider, riding the outskirts of the property to collect wandering stock on unfenced land, that John and his family came to live at Beaumont, in a small hut that took the Fleck name.
Flecks hut itself is a small, single-room abode still boasting most of its original features, including the door and table which have been inscribed with many signatures over time – some dating back as far as 100 years. Still clad with the original corrugated iron, the hut was imported all the way from England – a very long ocean journey in those days.
During their time at Flecks Hut, Mary gave birth to two daughters who sadly died in infantry, and a cairn still today marks their grave where they were buried on a rocky outcrop a short distance from the hut. On leaving Beaumont, John purchased 150 acres close to nearby township Riverton, where his family still own land today.
Offering horseback riding holidays at Beaumont today is the Minty family, whose farming history in Southland dates back three generations. The Mintys purchased the homestead block of Beaumont in 1982 before acquiring the Ardross lease in 1993, bringing the station to its present size of 20,000 acres. On its horse riding holidays, the Minty family enlightens guests about much of the ranch’s history, and takes trails rides out to Flecks Hut itself where guests can see the historical property in much of its original state.
The Minty family has not only opened its doors to guests for horseback riding holidays, but continue to operate a working cattle and sheep station, making Beaumont High Country Experience exactly that – a working ranch experience, not just a horseback riding holiday. Travel to the New Zealand ranch and you’ll discover on horseback the amazing, natural landscape on a true high country farming adventure. Whether it’s joining the mustering team to help with the gathering of sheep and cattle in the high country, or enjoying off-road backcountry horseback riding over diverse, hilly terrain, your horseback riding holiday at Beaumont will be part of the ranch’s new history.
For more information on horseback riding holidays at Beaumont High Country Experience, visit Top50Ranches.com