The Early Canterbury Runs: Containing the First, Second and Third (new) Series
Otipua — (Run 25 N.Z.R., afterwards 424)
(Run 25 N.Z.R., afterwards 424)
This run of twenty-five thousand acres, between the Pareora River and the Levels, was, as I mentioned in the previous note, originally taken up by the Rhodes brothers with the Levels, but when they were found to be holding more country than their licenses entitled them to occupy, they transferred the country which lay betwen Saltwater Creek and the Pareora and back to Mt. Horrible, to J. King, and it became the Otipua Station. It was not called Otipua for some years, however.
The Rhodes's owned the sheep on it until 1854, and knew it as Mt. Elwyn, and King at first seems to have called it Mt. Horrible.
While King was at Otipua, Thomas King, who, though of the same name, was no relation to the owner, arrived on foot disguised as a swagger. He had walked all the way from South Otago. He was not very hospitably treated at the station, and in the morning resumed his walk to Christchurch. On his arrival in town he bought the freehold of ten thousand acres of the best of his namesake's run, paid his £20,000 for the land, and sailed for England, whence he never returned, but he sent out S. A. Bristol, who managed the property until the last of it was cut up and sold in the late 'nine-page 176ties. It was well known as the Kingsdown Estate.
James King died in the early 'sixties, and after his death his widow went on with Otipua until about 1868, when George Gray Russell, the mortgagee, took it over. It then consisted of about twelve thousand acres of leasehold.
Russell freeholded several thousand acres of the land, and made a fine property of it, and lived there for many years. It was, however, sold about 25 years ago. The homestead now belongs to J. W. Withell. Russell was the founder of the National Mortgage Company. About 1869 Russell appointed his cousin, Melville Gray, to manage Otipua. Gray stayed about two years and then bought Ashwick Station at Burke's Pass in partnership with a man called Brown. While Gray was at Otipua the land rush set in and the whole run had been bought before he left. After selling Ashwick, he lived in Timaru for many years, but eventually inherited his brother's property near Perth, in Scotland, where he lately celebrated his 97th birthday. He sent me an account of his station life in New Zealand less than six months ago (March, 1945). Later, for many years Russell's manager was his brother, P. H. Russell, who had formerly owned Oakbourne Station in Hawke's Bay in partnership with Canning.