Mount Peel Boundary Hut
Ben Mcleod Station, Rangitata Gorge Rd, South Canterbury
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
23rd June 1994
In the nineteenth century, sheep farming for the production of wool was of primary importance to the New Zealand economy. The South Island, and in particular Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago, was attractive for the rearing of sheep due to large tracts of open tussock where as the North Island was more heavily bush covered. Agricultural development in the North Island was further slowed by land wars and the related strife.
As stock numbers increased in the 1860s, a boundary keeping system was adopted in South Canterbury. Boundary keepers lived in simple huts such as Mt Peel Boundary Hut, patrolling the property boundaries daily and driving the sheep back into their own property.
Mt Peel Station was taken up by John Barton Arundel Acland in 1862 when his partnership with Charles George Tripp was dissolved. JBA Acland was one of the last of the life members of the Upper House to which he was appointed in 1865. Mt Peel Boundary Hut was built at the western (back) boundary of Mt Peel Station.
It is probable that Mt Peel Boundary Hut dates from the 1860s, when flocks became large enough to require boundary keepers and prior to the advent of cheap wire fencing in the 1870s. With two rooms this hut was more luxurious than other boundary huts, suggesting later 1860s. While the greywacke river stones used in the construction of the hut were brought up from Forest Creek, the timber used is mostly sawn and is thought to have come from a mill at Peel Forest where commercial milling began in 1865. With the advent of cheap wire fencing and the subdivision of the larger runs, there was no longer the need for boundary keepers. The hut, however, continues to be used for mustering by Ben McLeod, possibly more by tradition than by necessity.
A window in the hut is thought to have come from Samuel Butler's V hut which was located nearby at Butler's Creek. Butler's V hut was built on the Mt Peel side of Forest Creek and not on the Mesopotamia run which Butler took up. Mt Peel Station remains in the hands of the Acland family. Mt Peel Boundary Hut, however, is no longer within the boundaries of this station.
Historical Significance or Value
The historical significance of Mt Peel Boundary Hut relates to its use as a boundary keeper's hut. Boundary huts appear to have been fairly common during the early years of South Island high country pastoral farming. The boundary keeping occupation was a major contributing factor in the development of large runs such as Mt Peel Station. Mt Peel Boundary Hut is a surviving example of a building type which was made redundant by technological development. In addition it was historical significance as a result of its association with Mt Peel Station and with the Acland family who were seminal features of the early history of pastoralism in New Zealand.
Mt Peel Boundary Hut is a well resolved example of a New Zealand vernacular building type, the hut. Its combination of rectangular plan, symmetrical front facade and pitched roof is typical of many small scale buildings erected in colonial New Zealand. Utilitarian and simple to construct, Mt Peel Boundary Hut reflects the difficulty imposed by its remote location in the use of readily available construction materials. It is of technological interest in that the stonework is laid as random rubble in two skins with loose infill between. While the quality of workmanship is somewhat rough as befits an early building in such a remote location, the hut is remarkably sound for its age and, other than a lean-to addition, it has been little altered.
The hut is not visible from Rangitata Road but being constructed of local stone it harmonises with its tussock landscape and its river terrace setting. It commands views over Forest Creek, Moonlight Stream and parts of the Two Thumb Range.
Builder: Possibly Alexander (Sandy) McLeod
It is possible that the hut was designed and built by Alexander (Sandy) McLeod, a highland shepherd from Loch Broome, and/or labourers from Mt Peel Station. It was known as Sandy's Hut.
Mt Peel Boundary Hut is a two-roomed hut with a rectangular plan and pitched roof. The front (north) facade is symmetrical and has a centrally located door with a multi-light window on either side. The hut has a corrugated iron lean-to at the west end and a stove and chimney at the east end.
Dates not known:
-Corrugated iron lean-to added to west end
-Loft floor above the bunk room partially removed
Stonework laid as random rubble in two skins with loose infill between
The walls of the hut are constructed of random rubble greywacke river stones (brought from Forest Creek) in two skins with loose rubble infill between. The mortar and the interior plastering are of mud or earth. The hut has a wooden floor, a corrugated iron lean-to at the west end and wooden roof framing with corrugated iron sheathing.
14th February 1994
L.G.D. Acland, The Early Canterbury Runs, 4th ed., Christchurch, 1975
Department of Conservation
Department of Conservation
C D Whelan, Inventory of Historic and Archaeological Sites in Oturoto (heron) Ecological Region, Department of Conservation, 1990
G Harte, Mount Peel is a Hundred: the story of the first high country sheep station in Canterbury, Herald Printing Works, Timaru, 1956.
A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern region office
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.