Rock and Pillar
The Rock and Pillar Station is in the middle of gently rolling sheep farming country. It takes its name from the long, flat-topped mountain range that looms above it, which in turn takes its name from the distinctive pillar-like rocky “tors” that line the horizon.
Rock and Pillar was originally a Cobb and Co. stage-coach stop in the early days of bullock wagons and deeply rutted roads. Progress was painfully slow, so there was little distance between each stop from Hyde to Middlemarch. There was even a hotel here (Moloneys) for weary travellers. Now only a red Gangers’ shed marks the spot, one of at least 20 on the Trail, each with useful information panels.
The Rock and Pillars are a “horst” type range of mountains, pushed up between fault lines on either side, and peaking at an altitude of 1450m. Look out for the signpost to the tramping track up to the Rock and Pillars Conservation Park – it’s a 3-hour tramp up to it, so consider it a fair-weather track only.
The name Strath Taieri is an odd mix of Scots (“strath” for broad highland valley) and Maori. The early Maori also trekked through this valley, hunting for eels, water birds and also for the giant moa (many remains and relics from here are now in Otago Museum).