Sunday, 23 March 2008


Situated in the high country north west of Ashburton is one of New Zealand's best known sheep farms - Erewhon Station. The story behind the name begins in England in 1835 with the birth of Samuel Butler.

Many people have heard of the novel Erewhon. Many people know that Samuel Butler wrote it. I suspect that few people who have not read it know that its alternative title is Over the Range. It was published anonymously in 1872 and was a satirical work based on a fictional country named Erewhon or nowhere written as an anagram. The first few chapters of the book were in fact based upon Butler's experience of exploring Canterbury in South Island.

Butler emigrated to New Zealand after going to Cambridge and deciding not to follow his father into the Church. Just ten months after his arrival Butler had traversed Canterbury in search of good sheep country and bought several land leases near the upper reaches of the Rangitika River and set up the 55,000 acre Mesopotamia Station. There he established himself as a writer. He returned to England after four years having made enough money from those four years to support him for the rest of his life.

The owners of Stonechrubie Station, one of the runs that bordered Mesopotamia, decided to commemorate Butler's novel by renaming some of the land that had inspired him to write the book.

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