St Margaret’s College has Paterson Lodge within Arthur’s Pass National Park, on the northern second terrace of the Waimakariri and Hawdon Rivers, near the Hawdon Shelter and campground. The lodge is named after the College Trust Board Chairman, Clem Paterson, who was passionate about tramping and mountain climbing the Southern Alps and wanted to enthuse SMC students with this experience.
Through the leadership of Clem, the National Park Board issued a hut permit, and the Trust Board purchased a forestry worker’s house and moved it to its present site in 1969. The National Park Board required the lodge to have an ‘alpine’ look with pitched roof and stone base. Fortunately, the College maintenance and teaching staff, students and families got involved, with a Scottish stonemason organised by Clem, to create the lodge and supporting facilities as you see it now. In November 1970 the lodge was officially opened by Head Mistress Molly Mullan. With a committed Board and College staff, the lodge was used frequently by student groups and staff families for many years for outdoor education, mountain safety and tramping experiences. School groups caught a train from Christchurch and got off at the Mt White bridge and then walked to the lodge. A College Tramping Club enabled students and their families to utilise the lodge as a base for tramping through the National Park.
While the use of the lodge waned in recent years as the College focused on maintaining quality education and rebuilding the College post-earthquake, the Trust Board and Parents and Friends Association strongly support re-establishing frequent student, teacher and families use of the lodge for a range of outdoors education and recreation activities. The College’s programmes through the Duke of Edinburgh and Rite Journey as well as a revitalised Tramping Club will ensure frequent use of the lodge in years to come.