canterbury’s own lifestyle magazine / a great local read

JJust an hour away from Christchurch, Montrose Estate is nestled into the hills in one of New Zealand’s stunning South Island alpine valleys at the foot of Mt Hutt. Far away from the hustle and bustle and surrounded by high country lakes, spectacular mountains, abundant fishing creeks and unspoilt wilderness, it is hard to believe that in amongst the beauty and landscape you find yourself in, you’re only an hour’s drive from an international airport and 10 minutes from the local town, Methven.

The property was originally owned by a Dutch family who ran a salmon farm on it some 25 years ago. Back then the property was pretty rustic. Since purchasing the property in 2011, the new owners have worked hard to preserve this charm and beauty whilst creating a warm and inviting space that encompasses the land’s cultural heritage by acknowledging Ngai Tahu and Kai Tahu Māori tribes on which Montrose Estate is located.

‘Montrose Estate’s private self-contained experience is a gem in the South Island high country,’ shares Nick Lambert, Montrose owners’ representative. ‘It is a stunning base for relaxation and exhilaration in outstanding natural landscapes. Everything is on the doorstep, from winter skiing to fly fishing, clay bird shooting, horse riding, golf, and jet boating, plus excellent food and wine trails.’

Robert and Jane Lavery are the property managers and have lived in the Rakaia Gorge for over 20 years. For the last seven years they have worked closely with the owners and used their knowledge of the area and an appreciation for the land’s heritage to create a truly unique experience and unforgettable stay. Robert was heavily involved in the building of all three residences on the Montrose Estate and knows them inside and out. Personal family and traditional touches throughout the properties create a space that is beautifully understated but still luxurious. 

Priding itself on self-contained and accessible luxury, there is no masseuse, no room service and no shuttle into town. The best thing about your stay is that you feel at home, away from home. It’s not a stark and impersonal luxury property. It’s got personality, it’s cosy, and is an amazing place to be shared with friends and family. You settle in and feel at ease in no time and if there happens to be anything missing or something extra you need, then Robert and Jane are just a phone call away.

The property delivers on its promise of the ultimate New Zealand experience, with large windows offering breathtaking views of the Rakaia River, lake and mountains beyond. The owners are passionate about preserving and sharing their local environment. In fact, the pristine waters of Montrose are helping to increase and protect fish stocks in this area.

Working with Fish and Game New Zealand, the owners breed over one million salmon, rainbow and brown trout annually in their onsite hatchery. These are then released into the Rakaia River and surrounding alpine lakes along with some enhancing the waterways in other areas of Canterbury, the West Coast, Nelson, Marlborough and even Kaikōura.

Without the enhancement project partnership between the owners of Montrose and Fish and Game, the hatchery operations would not be sustainable. ‘Fish and Game consider Montrose a critical part of its strategy to maintain and enhance the trout and salmon fishery throughout North Canterbury,’ explains Rod Cullinane, General Manager of Fish and Game North Canterbury. Looking after the environment is important to Montrose. The small, compact and highly efficient hatchery offers results like no other. With perfect conditions to operate the hatchery, the cold and stable water conditions along with the purity of the water allows for the optimal breeding ground. The process from fertilisation to release takes around 11–12 months and from here the fish are released into the wild.

Throughout this process they are constantly monitored and each stage of life is very considered and well thought out. The odds are better for fertilisation in the contained environment allowing for a higher chance of survival than in the wild. Once a salmon or trout is released in the wild, they enter the Rakaia and then carry on to the ocean. The hope is that they return to Montrose in three years’ time, exactly where they were born. The experience of seeing them return upstream is simply remarkable. 

All of this, in addition to being the perfect place to take a well-deserved break, makes Montrose an excellent location for special occasions, corporate events and weddings. The property can be booked exclusively for up to 20 guests and is the perfect gathering place to come together, relax and enjoy the experience. This is a quintessential home away from home destination.

Visit to book your next stay.

WORDS Hana Carlson