Welcome Rock Trails
We are a fourth generation farming family who have owned Blackmore Station since 1911. Welcome Rock Trails is run by Tom O’Brien and his wife Katie.
Welcome Rock Trails takes its name from the prominent rock that sits on the skyline above the homestead. The rock was named by the early settlers who used the landmark as a meeting and trading point.
Welcome Rock Trails started in 2012 when the concept was conceived of a hand built trail system through Blackmore Station following the old gold miner’s water races (water races were channels cut across a hillside bringing water from streams to places where gold was mined). Tom hand built Welcome Rock Trails turning the first sod of earth on Tuesday 13 June 2013 and a revolution of new trail was revealed.
When Tom was a young boy his mother and father had the wisdom to retire one thousand hectares being half the farm, into a conservation covenant. Their vision was to preserve the high country allowing it to regenerate and share this with others.
As a family we wanted to fulfill our forefather’s vision without affecting the peacefulness of the reserve. We decided that low impact recreation such as hiking and biking would best fit this vision; and allow people to explore the high country at their leisure. We wanted to be sympathetic to the landscape, sensitive to the historic and ecological features, and mirror the techniques of the water race builders over a hundred years ago.
Today our dream is being realised, where the land is regenerating back to its pre-settlement beauty as visitors enjoy this sanctuary for how it was.
Tom O'Brien (Mr OB)
My name is Tom and I live on the farm with my wife Katie and two daughters Lylla who is at Garston school (where I started thirty five years ago) and Darcie Mae, three years old and at Lumsden preschool.
I also have a son named Bede who comes to visit each month and loves spending time with us but also helps us with design aspects of trail especially stone bridges. Bede is the youngest architect you will ever know at eight years old.
My job at Welcome Rock Trails is to build and maintain trail, huts, and interpretation. I have been known to yarn (talk in a friendly chatty way) to anyone who happens to cross paths with me.
Katie O'Brien (Coopie)
My name is Katie and without me Tom would be stuck between an unwelcome rock and a hard place. My responsibilities after caring for our children are to maintain the website and deal with all bookings and marketing aspects of the business. I also handle most of the email inquires and the accounts and have recently become a qualified Yoga Instructor.
Gary Patterson (Mr P)
It all started when my mate Tom asked me about taking a look at the back of his farm. Before my eyes I could imagine a trail meandering along the water race - this dream became reality when we started to dig! Tom now refers to me as his 'Anchor' because he thinks I keep him grounded and on track for developments at the Rock.
To kick things off for the trail I played a major role in obtaining the DOC management agreement, District Council consent, Heritage NZ permission, H&S plans, as well as preliminary design work for the publications and maps. Most recently I have designed nine interpretation sites along the trail which Tom is busily installing for this summer season. I am a qualified environmental planner and cartographer. In the past few years traveled the world mapping pest control in the subantartics and mountain bike trails in many exotic and remote locations. I have setup a business called Great Rides App (www.greatridesapp.com) providing information about the great rides of NZ.
On behalf of my family, including Mum, Dad, and my sisters Chanel, Pip, Sally and Clare, I'd like to share with you the vision behind Welcome Rock Trails.
We have been lucky enough to have been a part of this land since 1911, when my great great grandfather farmed Blackmore and started his legacy. One hundred and five years on, the journey continues to evolve into an entity that embraces land use and its people in a harmonious rather than destructive way. These basic principles are characterized by the Maori word Kaitiaki or Caretaker of the land.
Although we have been "rocking on" about Welcome Rock Trails being a bike and hiking trail and the huts etc....its actually about spending time in a place that reflects how you might feel in this environment. Its about recognition and acknowledgment of the people and resource that values the essence of being a caretaker of the land.
It is not a right, it is a privilege to share this part of New Zealand with you....We welcome you because the privilege is all yours.
Welcome Rock Trails.