Mellonsfolly Ranch and Waterfall Mountain , Old West Town, consist of 1000 acres of backcountry grassland, native bush and Manuka crossed by bush trails & streams. The property is owned in Trust.
Mellonsfolly Ranch is a unique getaway, born out of a love for the wilderness and the peaceful surroundings that embrace the Ruapehu area. Here nature is as it was intended to be with bush and wildlife surrounding the Ranch in every direction.
Sheriff Black Pete and his lady Miss Maggie, are your hosts at Mellonsfolly Ranch and the Town of Waterfall Mountain. Also known as Pete Calkin, Black Pete has a genuine interest in your welfare when you mosey on over to the Ranch. Being from an entertainment, hospitality and museums background, he will keep you entertained in town, in the Saloon and around the campfire, a guitar never far from his side. Pete hails from the Rangitikei just over the hills apiece. He is a keen shooter, especially varmints and would-be gun-slingin’, trouble makin’ cowboys. Black Pete’s main ambition is to make your stay as fine as the shining sun, real memorable like. He is the man to see if you have a care, a want or a need during your stay at Mellonsfolly.
Miss Maggie, the Sheriff’s off sider, is the lady about Town. Miss Maggie, also known as Margaret Calkin, also hails from over the hills in the Rangitikei area and has many years experience in the food, hospitality and horticultural industries. She is responsible for rustling up some of those mouth watering western meals served in the town Saloon or around the campfire in summer. Miss Maggie has a keen interest in the flora and fauna of the town and the surrounding 1000 acres of the ranch and woe-betide any varmint that rustles any apples from the orchard! One mighty fine woman, you will meet Miss Maggie when you Check in at the Hotel, and she will be looking to see you get amongst our whole range of cowboy activities.
Our Spanish Rose - Sarah Bartley, otherwise known as Senorita Rosita rides in to town often and helps out with the chores. Seen often in the Saloon, Rosita will whip you at cards, out shoot you on the Range and if Zorro was around, give him a lesson in sword play. Watch your step, this lady comes from the High Chaparral, but she will charm the socks off you if you’re a guest.
The Proprietors and Builders of Mellonsfolly Ranch, John and Kenda Bedogni – ‘Charles and Caroline Mellon’ visit from ‘Back East’ often. Robert Bartley, their associate, partner and the Ranch Business Manager – ‘Robert Mellon’ operates the Ranch and executes a role in support and development of this unique facility. Robert has many business interests in Wanganui, is involved in provincial Rugby and is passionate about the Ranch. He has answered the call of The West and continues to ensure the re - creation of a small part of ‘Old Wyoming’ in New Zealand.
The Proprietors and builders of Mellonsfolly Ranch, John and Kenda Bedogni – ‘Charles and Caroline Mellon’ visit from ‘Back East’ often. Their role is in support and development of this unique facility. Kenda managed Chanel in New Zealand for many years and John was prominent in the Flat Glass industry until the call of The West caused ‘The Mellons’ to embark on Mellon’s Folly ! What you see today is a result of their endeavours to recreate a small part of ‘Old Wyoming’ in New Zealand.
Much of the decoration of WaterFall Mountain has been the work of Steve Boore - Charles Frederick Boore III. An artisan with leather, Steve furnished all of the decorative shadow boxes, manufactured much gun leather and hand crafted all the Plains Indian items on display in the town.
This magnificent project was designed by Auckland Architect William Algie of Ponsonby, who has a number of notable design commissions to his credit. The owners commissioned the Architect in 2001. What originally was envisaged as a Lodge style retreat, was modified due to the need for a Workshop, some Garaging and other rural requirement buildings. This caused the Proprietors to review their options and in conjunction with their Architect, ideas crystallised into a sequence of buildings fulfilling all the functions required for a farm or rural location. The opportunity to collectively style these buildings, was a suggestion submitted by the Architect and seized upon by the Proprietors whose interest in the Old West led to the decision that the facility should be constructed as a representation of an authentic Old West Town. This creative idea continued to be developed by the Proprietors and the Architect into what came to closely resemble an old Wyoming western town of the late 1800s.
The Ruatiti Valley was opened up for settlement in 1909, when 25 blocks of land ranging from 150 to 500 acres were taken up and the first settlers moved in to do battle with the bush and the mud! Bush was felled and burnt and grass planted, all achieved with only man and horse.
When the slump in the 1930s hit, many farms were abandoned and bigger farms evolved in an effort to become economic. In the first years mail was delivered twice weekly by packhorse from Raetihi, which was the ‘Big Smoke’ to the locals. In 1911 the Ruatiti Post Office and Telephone Exchange was set up in a house a few miles north of the Manganui A Te Ao and the Ruatiti Domain. This house still stands and is home to a local family.
Our Historic area.
In 1919 soldiers returning from the First World War began to take up blocks of crown lease land in the Mangaparua Valley. Access was by way of a 2 day trip on a Steamer up the Whanganui River, stopping overnight at Pipiriki. With only the tools and supplies they could carry in, the men folk set about carving out crude campsites and clearing land for pasture so that the livestock could follow.
Wives and children followed the men a year or two later, and homes were built from timber milled on site. In the hey day of the Mangaparua settlement 42 families lived in the valley. Life was extremely hard for these families with access being the biggest problem. It is sad to relate that by the time the government had built a road access through to the Ruatiti Valley, most of the Mangaparua families had gone broke and abandoned the land. Their homestead sites still remain as testament to their endeavours.
The Bridge to Nowhere
The construction of a large concrete bridge, was approved by the Government, to cross the Mangaparua Gorge to complete the last stretch of road into the valley. This bridge became known as “The Bridge to Nowhere”, as by the time it was completed only a few families remained farming in the Valley.
The last family left in 1943, but the track is still open to the bridge. Remnants of the early settler homes can still be seen; old chimneys, bits of horse drawn machinery, hydrangea bushes and pine tree lines mark some of the old sites and there certainly remains the atmosphere of a bygone era.
Mellonsfolly Ranch and Whispering Hills are located near the trail head of the Track to the Mangaparua Valley and the “Bridge to Nowhere” The old settler road/track can be accessed by Hikers, Horses, and Mountain bikes.
Billy the Kid Room
What an amazing weekend! A fabulous time spent in these wonderful surroundings. Gorgeous beds and the detail in everything is fascinating. Cheers !
Francie & Bruce - Wanganui
General Custer Room
It’s an absolute pleasure to be the first to write in the General Custer book. Thanks for a fantastic stay, it was amazing. The experience will remain in our memories forever. The bed is as big and soft as my Grandmother’s feather bed – brilliant! This gets a big cowboy Five Stars from us.
Kent & Tracey – Auckland
We thought we were coming to an ‘old’ Western Town! –not a luxurious, tranquil fantastic, amazingly beautiful place! Had the greatest time, hospitality is outstanding. Thoroughly enjoyed.
James & Tracy Ennis -Whakatane
Wonderful hidden destination, loved the walk to the Lookout. First Class all round
Tony & Helen –Tauranga
Annie Oakley Room
Panoramic views across the valley, an awesome western town. Authenticity and attention to detail of the Old West Town has been achieved and outstanding. Food and Hospitality the best. We will be back!
Dave & Christine.
We rode into town 4 days ago and shot it all up! Thanks to the Management for their enthusiasm and patience with this film crew – it can’t have been easy.
Amanda & Dave
This is something that will be etched in our memories for a very long time. A great wonderful facility which is very overwhelming, -in the middle of nowhere! Thoroughly enjoyed our riding, snooker, campfire, sing-along, & gun slinging. -Souvenirs were also a treat for our friends.
Julie & Mike -Whangarei
Yet another great weekend! Lots of fun and laughter, we will be back
Sandra & Murray – Wanganui.
Wild Bill Hickok Room
Great room, the Wild Bill Hickok, wonderful place, so much to take on board. Love the Place! Had a great time. Thank you for sharing Mellonsfolly with us.
Doc & Christine – Bay of Islands.
The town was everything we hoped it would be! –Every single thing is unbelievable...
Karen & Michael -Carterton
What a fantastic place to celebrate Pauls 65th. Great company, great food, super great hosts, -thank you, it has been an awesome experience.
Sylvia & George –Havelock North
Jesse James Room
We are privileged to have been hosted by Mellonsfolly Ranch. Bev and I have stayed in top accommodation throughout New Zealand. The Ranch beats them all! The layout, high standard of finishing and furnishings, the ambience and most of all, the guests are made to feel so at home and welcome. A class act, this enterprise is a winner. We wish you every success you deserve in this venture.
Bev & Barry – New Plymouth
Mellonsfolly is a cowboys dream & the accommodation is a cowboys haven! My hero John Wayne would have been so proud of this town
Yee Ha, happy trails to you all
Alan & Judy -Christchurch
Buffalo Bill Room
What an exceptional and authentic place, amazing weekend with wonderful friends, just enjoying this spectacular place. As for the bed nothing can compare to that!
Nicole & Hamish – Auckland.
In just under 24 hours we feel as if we have been away for days, the furnishings, the authentic feel of this western town, the hospitality, the food, the Gunslinging make this one of a kind. We will now do our best to share it with others.
Virginia & Warren – New Plymouth.
Amazing, Incredible, fantastic, are just a few words that spring to mind to describe this authentic Old West Town. A Great, Great, Great weekend with fine food and friends. Thanks a hundred!
Bryce & Judith – Wanganui
A great place with the town fitting so well with the surroundings. Blown away by the incredible attention to detail of the buildings and quality of everything. Great hosts who think of everything before we even know we wanted it!!
Bill - Wanganui
A Corporate Retreat pas excellence! The absence of cell phones, newspapers, TV and other daily intrusions provided an essential basis for reflective debate. The atmosphere & surroundings provided the ‘dislocation’ sought after. Very well done
James , Massey University & Fonterra
Wyatt Earp Room
What a wonderful peaceful spot this is. The Town is fantastic and has definite ‘Wow’ factor. The rooms are sumptuous; the food was great and the company wonderful. A huge thank you to every one involved. PS The Bathhouse ‘Rocks’ and Gunslinging was all good!
Steve & Nicole – Auckland.
Thank you for a truly amazing experience! A great weekend and a chance to see, feel and live the life of a by-gone era. Magnificient presentation, attention to detail –just perfect. Hope to be back real soon!
Ron & Patsy –Tauranga
I bought my wannabe cowboy down from Motiti Island for his 70th birthday to experience the Western Life along with friends & family –the town was ours! We loved it! As I write this Vernon is from the luxurious king size bed “I was born under a wanderin’ star” –the transformation is complete!! Thank you for your excellent hospitality. We loved our room –the exquisite attention to detail is superb –as is the whole town.
Doggone !! Did we have some FUN!
Ali & Vernon, -Motiti Island, Bay of Plenty
What a treat! Fantastic company, setting, food & staff. Can’t fault a thing!
The details of Mellonsfolly are incredible, -shadow boxes, leather book holders etc.
Thanks for the Western Hospitality –nothing is a problem.
Maggie & Rowan -Auckland