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History at a glance

Just a short history of the place...

  • 1998 Jimmy buys a part of Freestone Hill, a 10 acre lot full of trees (and a house), for his horses Rebel and Flame
  • 1999 Jimmy gets an idea...
    Jimmy dreams up the backpackers and opens the doors to his house
  • 2000 Kerstin comes into his life. The house gets too small. Jimmy starts building the lodges
  • 2006 Kerstin and Jimmy look for a great place for a new home. The top of the hill is the where it has to be
  • 2007 Jimmy doesn’t waste time and starts building a lodge with a concert room for Kerstin
  • 2009 Kerstin gives the first concerts at Freestone
  • 2010 the deluxe en-suite takes shape
  • 2012 Our daughter Carla is born...and the delux ensuite get's re-purposed!
  • 2013 A new venture - Manapouri Lake Cruises opened up with Kerstin and Jimmy at the helm.
  • 2014 Jimmy runs Freestone on his own (and happy to take on helpers!).

rebel and flameRebel the horse

About us at Freestone - your Fiordland accomodation

The Freestone Story

Jimmy was drinking his Speight’s in the pub one evening and told the person beside him that he was looking for a place for his two horses. There were 4 people in the pub and one of them was a real estate agent. By next morning, the horses were happy and so was Jimmy; the deal was done.

At that time there was just a house down below and the land. Within a month, the idea had grown for a Backpackers. Jimmy created a little village, with paths like the walking tracks you find in Fiordland, and DOC-like huts hidden in nature. It’s a rustic look, but with cosy comforts like wood-burning stoves and an onsite laundry. As a handyman, with his saw mill and together with a friend, Jimmy used resources from Freestone land to build the huts and shape Freestone Backpackers.

After that Jimmy needed a new project to keep his hands busy and his woman happy. He built a magnificent lodge at the top of the hill, with a spectacular concert room of 120 square metres for Kerstin’s piano recitals as well as other social gatherings such as karaoke, movies and jam sessions.

But the real proprietors of Freestone Backpackers were Rebel and Flame, Jimmy’s two home bred Quarter horses.


Jimmy is cheeky and loves singing karaoke, especially Elvis. He is also very good at chopping firewood, building lodges and mucking around faster than the eye can see. There are always new projects to start. Jimmy Calder is an archetypal Southern man who can fix anything with number 8 wire. (He also finds duct tape pretty useful.) He has hunted buffalo, erected fences in Australia, run a stud farm and been a cowboy. After 25 years of fishing, he finally bought Freestone, mainly for his two horses, and 8 years ago changed it into a backpackers. He also marks walking tracks for DOC and has learnt the essential skill of breaking into cars, but only when backpackers have locked the keys inside! Apart from this he is a real Kiwi, loves his boats, bush walks, roasts, Speight's and of course rugby!


Rebel and Flame

The real owners of Freestone were the two 15 year old home-bred quarter horses from Jimmy’s stud, often referred to as the two horsepower lawn mowers. Rebel’s father was one of New Zealand’s finest breeding horses. Jimmy used to ride Rebel in the good old western style and they both made a perfect team. They were even offered a role together in Lord of the Rings! Unfortunately Jimmy turned the job down after the audition, because it was the start of his fishing season. I think it got right into Rebel’s head. He was the king of the property and only came to the main lodge to beg for bread. They are so spoilt! At night the two boys would usually be back in their paddock, but if you were up late, sometimes they might be looking into your lodge…

Sad to say both have now gone to the great horse-paddock in the sky. Being old and like many a horse before them, they came to the end of their one-horse-race. RIP Rebel and Flame, we'll miss you!