Historic Cobb & Co Coach

See New Zealand’s only stagecoach preserved beside the mountain road it once travelled upon.

This stagecoach was a state-of-the-art vehicle

Stagecoaches ran a regular service across the Southern Alps from 1886 to 1923 on New Zealand’s first and most dramatic alpine road. The Arthur’s Pass coaches were New Zealand’s last horse-drawn coach service.

In 1923 the rail tunnel broke through the mountains, spelling the end of the line for the Wild West days of backcountry travel. Cobb & Co was NZ’s most famous coaching brand. This ‘Concord’ coach, cousin of the classic American stagecoach, was imported  from the US in 1888. It was a state-of-the-art road vehicle of its time.

The Cobb & Co Coach Service.
The Cobb & Co Coach Service in action

Travelling in the past

This historic stagecoach offers today’s travellers to Arthur’s Pass an evocative glimpse into the gruelling days of nineteenth century transport. Even today it’s a rugged and breathtaking drive across the Pass. You can imagine the hazardous journey for passengers on coaches pulled by teams of straining horses on roads threatened by steep gorges, flooded rivers, frequent snowstorms and often inadequate brakes.

The coach is preserved in the Arthur’s Pass Visitors Centre and is floodlit and visible from the road. Near Arthur's Pass Village you can visit Jack’s Hut, a restored roadman’s cottage from the coaching era.

The coach today. Photo: Annabelle Studholme.
The coach today in the Arthur’s Pass Visitors Centre

Conservation

After the demise of the coach service local historian Edgar Lovell-Smith recognised its value and purchased the old coach, later donating it to the Canterbury Museum. Today the coach is in much the same condition as on its final journey and offers a tangible link to those adventurous stagecoaching days.

Getting there

Arthur’s Pass village is in the centre of Arthur’s Pass National Park, on State Highway 73, 150km west of Christchurch.

See other coaches

There is another coach in the Canterbury Museum (painted red). There is also a cobb and co coach in the Otago Settlers Museum. The coach in Arthur's Pass is the only one beside the road where it once travelled.  

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