It was hard to know which was the more spectacular sight on the snow-blanketed Lindis Pass yesterday - the weather or the wethers.

Munro family members were continuing a tradition of driving sheep between their two pastoral lease properties, Rostriever, at Otematata, and Mt Thomas, on the south side of the Lindis summit.

At about 67km, John Munro reckoned it could be the longest sheep drive in New Zealand.

Yesterday was the penultimate day of the three-day drive and the weather played its part superbly with sunny skies.


It was an extraordinary sight to see the mob of about 1070 merino wethers meandering along the state highway, amid delighted tourists and truck drivers whose phone cameras were on overdrive.

It was a fairly laid-back operation: the low-key Munro brothers, John and Ian, and John's son Cliff, three utes, some flashing lights, a few dogs, and a plastic grocery bag on a stick for extra impetus.

Just how long the trek between the two properties has been going on - there were usually two return trips each year with both wethers and ewes - was unknown.

John and Ian Munro's late father, Cliff, did it back in the 1950s. The family had the Mt Thomas lease since World War I, so it could have started even earlier.

Cliff Munro used to wander behind the mob on his horse with nobody at the front. It was a gravel road then and there was virtually no traffic.

When his sons started doing it, there was a truck in front and someone walking at the rear with their dogs. But, as traffic increased, that became too dangerous.

This week, the Munro men were making the journey for possibly the last time.

The pastoral lease for both properties is for sale, marking the end of a long era of Munro family ownership.


Asked if there had been any sticky situations over the years, John Munro wryly said "a few".

Several times, motorists had run into the mob and they had "lost a few", but mostly, the run was smooth.

"People often say to me, do you have trouble with the tourists? Yeah, they get in the road now and again but they don't do any harm, really. Kiwis are the worst .. . they are the impatient ones."

He said they had started looking at transporting their stock by truck - although that was an expensive option - because of the increasing traffic.