You will know you have reached the Mackenzie Country after you cross Burkes Pass and the woodland is suddenly replaced by high-country tussock grassland, which is full of lupines in the summer months. The area is named for James ("Jock") McKenzie, one of the most intriguing and enigmatic figures in New Zealand history. McKenzie was a Scot who may or may not have stolen the thousand sheep found with him in these secluded upland pastures in 1855. Arrested, tried, and convicted, he made several escapes from jail before he was granted a pardon nine months after his trial—and disappeared from the pages of history. Regardless of his innocence or guilt, McKenzie was a master bushman and herdsman. A commemorative obelisk marks Mackenzie Pass, 30 km (18 miles) off the main highway if you turn off at Burkes Pass.
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