Mt Nicholas and the Von Valley

Every now and then we see a New Zealand photo and we turn to each other and ask "Where's that?" The Von Valley is a good example. We came across this beautiful photograph quite by accident, and on further investigation it revealed an interesting story about an interesting character from New Zealand's past.

Nicholas Paul Balthasar Tunzelmann von Alderflug was born in 1828 on the island of Ousel, in what is now called Estonia. He studied in Germany, Switzerland, England and finally Canada, where he studied medicine. On returning to London he took up English citizenship and he later decided to go to India as a veterinary surgeon with the British Army. 

In 1858 he traveled by sailing ship to New Zealand where he met the woman who was to become his wife, Gertrude Rose Von Tunzelman née Gilbert.

He then established a small high country farm beside what was to become the Von River, naming his run Fernhill. But he suffered much bad luck with this enterprise at Fernhill, so he moved to New South Wales in Australia to try his hand at fruit farming. 

Five years later, on hearing that his farm was in danger of being removed from his ownership, he returned to New Zealand and that's where he settled until his death in Frankton Hospital on 31 July 1900.

The Von River and the Mt Nicholas Station near Queenstown are named after the remarkable Nicholas Paul Balthasar Tunzelmann von Alderflug as is the Von Valley where our photograph was taken.

And below is a great shot of Mt Nicholas Station as it looks today. It spans 100,000 acres from the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is home to 30,000 Merino Sheep and 2,200 Hereford Cattle. The owners of Mt Nicholas welcome visitors who are interested in learning about the workings of a New Zealand Merino sheep farm and accommodation is available for those who would like to stay longer.banner-mt-nicholas-2.jpg#asset:4747

Both Mt Nicholas and the Von Valley can be visited on all of our South Island itineraries, including the  'North Island & Southern Alpine Wonders'

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron • Jun 17, 2016