First race: 1995
Highest number of participants in main race: 112 finishers (2015)
Worldloppet membership: since 2014
Prior to the initial Merino Muster there were two races. The 1st in the 1980’s was held at Cardrona.
Ski Area prior the opening of the Snow Farm. The other long distance cross country ski race in 1990 at the Snow Farm, was organised by Andreas Hefti whose dream it was to create a major international race in New Zealand. Unfortunately Andreas became ill and later passed away. Other trial races were held in1993 and 1994.
The 1st formal Merino Muster was held in 1995, sponsored by CSL Ltd animal health division. CSL staff had been instrumental in the development of cross country skiing in Australia and John Burridge a CSL manager had become an enthusiastic supporter of Snow Farm. He wanted to sponsor a race for farmers and their veterinarians
START/FINISH LOCATION OF THE RACE: Snow Farm, Cardrona, coordinates 44°52’39.7″S; 169°05’32.7″E
The signature race is the 42km Merino Muster. The Snow Rake is shorter course 21km. To encourage future participation we also hold the 7km Straggle Muster. The race consists of three different laps. The first lap is the Straggle Muster, the second the Snow Rake 21km and third the Merino Muster. Snow Rake skiers complete both Straggle Muster and the Snow Rake and the 42km Merino Muster skiers go on to ski the 3rd lap. All skiers receive a medal with a ‘jewel’ the colour of their race at the finish line. All races start and finish at the lodge.
The Snow Rake, winds through picturesque Meg River Valley to the Meadow Hut. The Meadow Hut drink station volunteers stay overnight ready for the onslaught of skiers in the morning. After a gentle climb to the top of the Loop, its back to the Lodge stadium to finish or if a Merino Muster skier continue to lap three, which goes to the south with views of the rocks, above the Meg river where the merino sheep historically hid from the musterers. There are views of the Remarkables mountain range which dominates the backdrop at the south end of the course. The final kilometers revisit the Meadow Hut, back along the top of the Loop to the Finish Stadium to be rehydrated and presented with a Merino Muster medal.
42 km course profile – total elevation gain 361 m. Purpose built course is series of short climbs, longest climb 36 m. Course ascends 38%, descends 38%, flat part 24%.
HOW TO GET TO THE MERINO MUSTER
By plane: Fly in into Queenstown and hire a car or take a taxi
Distances: Christchurch: 460km; Queenstown: 57km (1h); Wanaka: 35 km (30 min)
- If you want to see more of the country we recommend you fly to Queenstown, rent a car and drive back after the race to Christchurch either through the McKenzie Country or NZ’s unique West Coast.
- If you are super keen you can fly to Christchurch and do both routes. They are long drives so allow lots of days pre race to recover from the flight.