Tag Archive for Central Otago

Gold Rush Multisport – Across Central Otago, south to north

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to once again have an amazing trip as tail-end-charlie for the annual 3 day Gold Rush Multisport race across a lot of very isolated country in Central Otago. The race is regarded as the next great challenge for those wanting something longer than the Coast-to-Coast which goes from the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island to Christchurch.

It starts at Alexandra just upstream from this famous bridge…
Alexandra Bridge

The competitors kayak down the Clutha River to Lake Roxburgh…
Lake Roxburgh

Exiting the kayak usually requires assistance as muscles have seized up…
Lake Roxburgh Gold Rush Multisport race

Next a short run and then onto a very long mountain biking leg over the Knobbly Range to Manorburn…
Lake Roxburgh transtition - Gold Rush Multisport race

Knobbly Range

My two assistants Mike and Rianne…
Gold Rush Multisport Race

Photo time – one of many, along with gates to be opened…
Knobbly Range - photographer

The tail-end mt biker…
mt biker Knobbly Range

Giving assistance…
Knobbly Range and Landcruiser camper

Dealing with a locked gate dilemma – unlike the athletes we can’t lift our transport over same…
Little Valley gate, Alexandra

The same gate…
Little Valley gate, Alexandra

Sat. night camp at Manorburn was a welcome sight…
Manorburn Dam Central Otago

After a welcome meal, we had to drive on to Poolburn Dam and then to the top of the Serpentine track to be in position for the next morning…
Gold Rush Multisport Race

Me on gates…
Gold Rush Multisport Race gate

Bright and early they came…
Gold Rush Multisport Race

Co-driver, and I’m glad of the break…
Landcruiser driver Gold Rush Multisport Race

Lauder, and I find out that distant relation and friend Cathy Lewsley has a pop-top version. Must be a genetic thing..
Landcruiser campers at Lauder

Brew time and tired…
Gold Rush Multisport Race

A big landscape…
Gold Rush Multisport Race

Meet the locals…
Farmer on Quad Bike with dogs Gold Rush Multisport Race

Keeping track…
Clipboard Gold Rush Multisport Race

Dawn on the last morning – Pisa Range from Tarras…
Dawn sunrise Pisa Range from Tarras

Traffic management…
Gold Rush Multisport Race

Fitting the dreaded sign, for the last leg to Alexandra on a busy highway…
Gold Rush Multisport Race

In true turtle mode…
Gold Rush Multisport Race

Prize giving and beers at Molyneux Park, Centennial Ave, Alexandra…
Molyneux Park, Centennial Ave, Alexandra

Many thanks to Merryn, Tim and MJ for the opportunity, and to Mike and Rianne for the great company and many laughs. And to Rianne for the use of a few photos to augment my own – she has a blog too >>

The route: Alexandra > Roxburgh > Knobbly Range > Manorburn > Serpentine > Poolburn > Moa Creek > Lauder > Thomsons Gorge > Tarras > Hawea Flat > Albertown > Lake Dunstan > Alexandra, by kayak, mt. bike, running and road bike

Town meets Country – Wanaka Show Day 2013

I blogged about the Wanaka Show Day this time last year, and there is a link below that describes it in more detail.

Suffice to say that once again the weather obliged. Friday was as hot as… and many of the horses headed to the lake…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Wanaka Show Day 2013

Wanaka Show Day 2013

Prime breeding cattle are primped, preened and watered for judging the next day…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Wanaka Show Day 2013

The Sat. dawned cool and cloudy thankfully and judging got underway. Family or whomever are called on to the lead the beast past the eyes of the judges…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

NZ Army Military Band…
Wanaka Show Day 2013 NZ Army Military Band

Shade was welcome. More like the light you get in Aust., but it’s been deadly dry here for ages…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Good friends Jen and Joan pose for me…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Another friend checks out the preserves in the produce competitions…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Quilting and other art…
Wanaka Show Day 2013 and quilting

Wanaka Show Day 2013

Everything is for sale on Show Day…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

At a special Show Day Price…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

A lot of eating and drinking goes on…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Merino sheep judging area…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Wanaka Show Day 2013

Another breed perendale…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

A corner of the grounds is always set aside for carnival type activities on offer…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

There are many hours devoted to horse activities such as dressage and show jumping…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Wanaka Show Day 2013

Serious farm machinery for sale…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

I could have bought this Rolls, instead I settled for 2 x four packs of merino socks for tramping…
Wanaka Show Day 2013 Rolls Royce

Wanaka Show Day 2013

Trying to walk in one of these seems impossible, especially as oxygen depletes!
Wanaka Show Day 2013

And maybe these were the more sensible people, but for baking in the hot Central Otago sun. This is crazy, but you have to live here to fully understand this…
Wanaka Show Day 2013

Jill and her boyfriend and a house “cooling” in Matakanui

One of my old mates Bruce is shifting house out of a classic historic abode, and moving to town in Ranfurly. So it was a “house cooling” – maybe “warming” is coming.

Matakanui is off the beaten track a wee bit, and that’s the way I often prefer to go to and from the central part of Central Otago via…

Thomsons Gorge Road Central Otago
Thomsons Gorge Road Central Otago

Thomsons Gorge Road gives a chance for slower way of life… you see more…
Dragon Fly

Jill…
Cow Thomsons Gorge Road

Jill’s boy friend, with the gorge of Thomsons Gorge in the back ground…
Bullock - Thomsons Gorge Road

Bruce’s historic mud brick /sod house in Matakanui. 18 inch thick external walls, 12 inch internal. Maybe not the best construction for earthquakes, but superb for the extremes of summer and winter…
Matakanui

Resident goats – maybe this is the one called Donald…
Matakanui goat

Downtown Matakanui…
Downtown Matakanui Central Otago

Downtown Matakanui Central Otago

Downtown Matakanui Central Otago

Downtown Matakanui Central Otago

Downtown Matakanui Central Otago

Antlers Downtown Matakanui Central Otago

About Matakanui:

Matakanui, once a bustling mining town, offers a special glimpse into how life must have been during the rush for Central Otago gold.

Matakanui lies nestled under the foothills of the Dunstan Mountains, less than an hour’s drive from Alexandra towards Ranfurly. Drive 20 minutes northeast of Alexandra along SH85 to the township of Omakau. Turn onto Harvey Street in Omakau, and continue about 10km along Racecourse Road, turning left onto Glassford Road then onto Naylor Rd.

The name Matakanui refers to one of three high points along the Dunstan Range. It was originally known as Tinkers and there are different theories for this. It may have come from the miners‚Äô camp resembling a tinkers‚Äô camp with all its pots and pans tinsmiths were then called tinkers; or it may be based on a reply given by a miner when asked how/what he was doing ‚Äì ‚Äútinkering around‚Äù…

More via Central Otago| Matakanui | Central Otago Tourism | Visit Central Otago, New Zealand.

In 1862 Gold was discovered throughout the Central Otago…

In 1862 Gold was discovered throughout the Central Otago and 150 years later we are celebrating this milestone.

http://gold150.org.nz/

I’ve not had a lot of time off lately and it seems the trend will continue for a week or two yet as I develop software for Skydive Wanaka, so it’s all ready for the busy season starting soon, so not having many new images I thought I’d offer a few to go with our gold mining history…

Featuring St Bathans, and yes it used to be called “The Blue Lake of St Bathans”, but as far as I can recall a flood event a decade or two changed the mineral composition of the water, which had filled old mine shafts… there’s a link lower down if you’re interested.

St Bathans is an historic¬†Central Otago¬†mining town¬†near the foot of the Hawkdun and Dunstan Ranges, 60 kilometres north of Alexandra, off SH85 (Alexandra to Ranfurly). Established in 1863 to service the area‚Äôs newly-established goldmines, in the 150 years since, St Bathans has become a special place. The town¬†enables today’s visitors to learn about the area‚Äôs mining history, see several historic buildings and admire the Central Otago landscape that it nestles in.

More via Dept of Conservation web site  St Bathans: Otago.

Third attempt to ski tour Mt Pisa, Central Otago, NZ

Why Mt Pisa? Well I’ve been up to it’s gentle summit a few times either walking or by 4wd, but I’ve never skied it before, and now I want to, and do it alone! The landscape is immense, and I want to feel how small I am in it and to be overwhelmed [well not too much!] and humbled by the experience. Being alone means maximum uptake of what is going on in the moment, and actually a trip like this demands being in the present, and being at one with it all, including one’s self!

As I close writing this post, the weather forecast for the next two days includes snow down to 300 meters! It looks like I’ll have another several weeks yet of ski touring opportunities on the Pisa range.

Our lonely symbols of mortality – a reflective trip into the Nevis Valley, Central Otago

A bunch of crosses in a populated cemetery can numb my mind if I consider the whole experience of being human, and the collective experiences of all who’ve gone before us to once again return to the dust of the universe.

A lonely grave seems to bite deeper – the space creates context that can be reflected on…
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The symbol of the cross as being part of death, is I find an interesting concept, e.g. while doing the yoga mountain pose [standing tall and straight – not as easy as it may seem], then raise our hands to the sky [and follow with our eyes], then slowly bring them down, palms out, in an arc to our sides, accompanied with an exhalation we create space – both outwardly and physical in the heart/ribs/shoulders, and so on the descent of our hands we become a cross.

Up until making these images last weekend, on yet another trip to Central Otago’s Nevis Valley I’d sort of reckoned that it was Christ’s death that consolidated the symbolism of the cross, but now I’m not so sure. Could be he picked it to make a point.

Amid all that suffering he opened his heart to all. Created space in yoga terms if you like. And like all crosses if viewed from below the sky [universe] takes on the role we can’t comprehend, that of the infinite…
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Some of our pioneers obviously had this in mind when they placed a bird next the lonely cross in the Nevis Valley cemetery. Note the bird faces north and slightly upwards…
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We entered the Nevis this year from the Bannockburn end [as opposed to Garston in Southland], and on topping Duffers Saddle were quite taken aback as photographers, by the light on the back of the The Remarkables…
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This well designed verandah on an historic cottage will have seen many happy relaxing lazes in the sun, and shade…
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In this dry continental climate rust does almost sleep…
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Modern day [night!] travellers…
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Yet another cross…
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The ponds in the background were created by gold dredges – with limited water they’d daily shift their own hole that they occupied…
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Eroded not by nature, but by miners washing down the cliff with large water blasting nozzles, known as sluicing guns…
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The vibrancy of spring

From a landscape photography perspective [no pun intended], you might recall around autumn and ANZAC day I posted several images of golden leaves portraying motion. Well, what better time than spring to refine these techniques again with a few shots incorporating motion, and where colour is used as a compositional tool.

But another unique property of spring in the New Zealand high country, and around Central Otago, is what is known as a “burn-off”…
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A “burn-off” is a traditional New Zealand way to promote fresh green growth to high country pastures. Usually it now means setting fire to bracken fern, which forms a waist deep barrier to cattle and sheep getting at grasses. Unfortunately these days it’s usually this fern that is set alight. Why is this such a sad thing? Simple… it grows where soil is depleted partly by repeated burning of grasses and tussocks! Crazy!

It’s an emotional topic too, because as the above photo demonstrates pollution is rampant. Soil erosion can be another factor.

The plum tree in blossom outside my gate…
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My backyard and woodshed…
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A beautiful New Zealand native cabbage tree across the road. No flamboyant displays with this master of solidarity…
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I’m not sure what this colourful species is, but I assure you while it’s looking autumn like, this is how it looked 4 evenings ago in a walk-way nearby…
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A week of it – activities at the Snow Farm, Cardrona Valley, Central Otago

Over the years I’ve posted often about my predilection for cross country skiing at the Snow Farm, so this week I thought I’d share more of the flavour of the place. It’s rather unique for New Zealand, as it incorporates not only skiing, but vehicle testing and a whole lot of other things.

My preferred activity is to ski out to the area boundary alone on dusk. This is a privilege I appreciate very much, and comes about due to a long friendship with the owners. This view is looking north towards Lake Hawea. Sometimes it’s possible to see Mt Cook from here…
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Bob Lee hut on the skyline…
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On my return I often meet JP on the trail. He lives in a tent all season near Meadow Hut, and often works at Biathlon coaching at the Snow Farm or ski patrolling at the nearby by downhill terrain park area [yet another aspect of the facilities], so being an athlete in training he runs up to the Snow Farm from that area at a slightly lower altitude, and then skis mostly downhill on cross country skis to his little home…
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While most people know the Snow Farm as a facility for recreation on the snow, the real business in the area is the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds. While it’s summer in the north cars, tires, car parts, snow blowers etc. are tested at 12 large building facilities all scattered around a very large area and largely hidden from the public.

When it’s all boiled down to it machines like this grader on the right, or the groomer below are what keeps the life blood of the area flowing, night and day…
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But this is more the scene I experience in the dark. Traveling on light skis on good snow and trails at this 1500 mt altitude is amazing. Not just how the stars twinkle, but the enormity of the space that they sit in…
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During daylight hours this is more the scene the public knows…
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And if the wind if good, then not far from the car-park this is a preferred activity for sometimes up to a doz. brave souls…
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In another area or zone there are skidoo tours. Here is a group of several setting off. The two helicopters in the back ground are dropping off a wedding party, but they are also often seen parked up here, assisting with the filming of commercials or movies…
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A wedding party heading away from the helicopters to go dog sledding…
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Meanwhile the latest cars to be tested cruise by, all upholstered so people like me can’t take photos that are of interest to auto magazine editors…
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The bride is encased in furs for her sled tour – Siberian huskies are used predominately…
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The sledder or musher harnesses the team…
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The groom heads off following…
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Meanwhile the world’s top athletes train and race both classic and skate nordic skiing…
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And lastly today, I did yet another tour with my good friend Vicky. We knew a severe weather system was coming, but decided to sneak in a trip to Meadow Hut. It caught us on the return.

From the moment we left we encountered Antarctica like temps. and an absolutely cutting and ruthless southerly wind. It was interesting to observe myself and feel the old apprehension again that arises on meeting such bluntness, then to remember [and practice] that the first prerequisite of being safe in such conditions is to be calm of mind!

Maybe minus 15 oC and 30-40 knots – makes for an extreme wind chill factor. Camping was not an option as we groped our way back…
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It’s important to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. In these conditions icicles were forming in the small hairs that populate the entrance to both my nostrils, and I had to safeguard against frost-nip [mild frost bite] to the flesh on my cheeks below the glasses, but the beard really does help elsewhere…
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And this smily lady was on her way back to the Lodge – her job to clean the two huts in the area ready for the next groups – often from schools. She stopped on her skidoo to check we were OK, so out with the camera! …
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So it’s a pretty interesting place. I sometimes liken it to Disney Land, but every winter at some point I’m reminded these are real mountains, and it’s a total privilege to have access to them on my doorstep, and to be able to travel lightly amongst them with great people!

Xmas day trip

My friend Ian and myself left Wanaka mid afternoon on Xmas day for a bit of an expedition though some remoter parts of Central Otago. In the Nevis valley we encountered heavy rain compromising the 24 fords we had to cross, so we pushed on for longer than we’d intended before making our merry tea, to reach the summit at 1100 meters, that leads to a steep descent into Southland.

We had 30 mins. of sun to set up the truck off the road before it started snowing:
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Next morning at 8 am we found ourselves dealing with a couple of inches of new snow:
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We sledged the truck back onto the road without the need for chains, Ian mt. biked down and we were off for a coffee at our favourite tea rooms in Athol. We descended back into summer, and it looked pretty odd in the heavy Xmas traffic to have much white stuff melting and flying off the vehicle.

We headed to Queenstown then up to Skippers [Ian again riding] for a cuppa, then back out again in the evening when there is less traffic [it’s a single lane road with legendary drop-offs, but is really sweet to drive if there is no on-coming traffic]. Last time I was in there at night with Dougal I had to shift a dead goat that had fallen on the road just before we got there. It was very Monty Python and also very smelly: that pungent goat oder, and I’d forgotten about it, before assisting it on it’s descent.

The restored Skippers school house:
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We ended up in the Arrow river for our last night, and while I’m talking of Monty Python, when we woke up in the morning there was a ute parked in the river:
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Ian rang the number on the door thinking it may have been stolen and abandoned, but no, it was the owner’s son who’d got it stuck.

And so ended 3 memorable days!