Cust is an attractive township on the Inland Scenic Route 72, half-way between Oxford and Rangiora. Route 72 is a popular travelling road between Geraldine and Amberley, which provides wonderful views of the Southern Alps and pastoral Canterbury.
The town has panoramic views across the billiard-table-flat rural landscape to the rolling hills and towering flanks of Mounts Thomas, Richardson and Oxford.
Cust was originally known as Moeraki Downs, then as Middleton-on-the-Cust, being the middle town between Oxford and Rangiora. The current name comes from Sir Edward Cust, a member of the Canterbury Association, which organised the immigrant ships and early settlement of Canterbury in 1850.
Cust has some interesting retail outlets, which attract the attention of travellers. The country provedore store has an intriguing range of arts and crafts, including homespun products, mohair knitwear and plants. Thousands of roses are to be found in the Cust rose gardens and nursery, including climbing, patio, miniature and old fashioned varieties.
The Cust Hotel was built in the 1850’s and became a favourite ‘halfway house’ for bullock wagoners carting timber from ‘Harewood Forest’ to Oxford and Rangiora. The Cust Museum opens on Sundays and graphically shows how the town developed. You can visit two vineyards in the Cust area and even take a stress-free wagon adventure behind a team of well-trained Clydesdale horses.
Fernside is a rural area just two minute’s drive west of Rangiora on the Inland Scenic Route. This is becoming a rural lifestyle block area, with diverse land use; typically dairy, sheep, olives, hazelnuts, asparagus, vineyards, deer, native plant nurseries and meaderies.
From both Fernside and Cust it is only a short run to the Ashley Gorge – a beautiful setting for summer swims and picnics. Between the Ashley and Okuku rivers there are walking tracks from one hour’s duration to a full day traverse over Mt Thomas. Breathtaking views to the main divide of the Southern Alps are the reward for any climbing activity in this picturesque area.