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Showing posts from December, 2019


Gold Fever and Ghost Towns in Central Otago

Main Street St. Bathans  (pop. 10)  is around 10 km off the main Dunedin - Queenstown Highway The traffic picks a bit when I hit the Dunedin to Queenstown Road near Ranfurly.   Up to now the most I’d encountered was the odd minivan pulling a trailer to take cyclists to a trailhead. Now there were fast moving trucks and slow moving campervans competing for limited road space. Beyond it the surreal landscape continues - rocky tors interspersed with dry gulches and fringed by snow covered peaks which look like rows of well -formed teeth. Expansive and seemingly timeless, it induces some kind of time shift wherein mere mortal concerns such as being late for a rental drop off, seem rather irrelevant.      The Vulcan Hotel  built of mudbrick in 1882, is still operating and said to be haunted   Though I am officially still in a hurry,  I can’t resist the small detour into St. Bathans. My thanks   to   Jon,   whose excellent See the South Island blog inspired

The Badlands –The Rock and Pillar Range

A preview of the Rock and Pillar Range When I told the Mayor of Oamaru back in Haast, that I was planning to come back via Middlemarch, he was horrified. ” Why would you want to do that?" he asked. "There’s nothing there.”  I must confess that that was at least part of the attraction. I imagined fairly flat ground and little traffic – perfect for covering a lot of ground fast. I was right about the second part. The second reason I wanted to go this way –was that since I couldn’t do the Taieri Gorge Rail Journey   (and couldn’t afford it either), I would try to see as much as possible of it along the way. The train journey takes in incredible grades, crosses 16 major bridges and has at least three curved viaducts.   The viaduct over the Taieri Gorge is the largest wrought iron structure in New Zealand and has both the tallest and longest bridge on the line. Well, I would do the next best thing and drive out to Taieri Gorge 11km off the highway. Climb

Southland 3 – The Catlins to Dunedin

  A magical place - The Nugget Point Lighthouse dates from 1869 and was automated in 1989 Have you ever coveted a view? This feeling doesn’t come over me often, but   having seen   pictures of   the Nugget Point   Lighthouse, I just had to see if it really did   look the way it did in the brochures.   Before that though, my first mission this morning, apart from trying to get petrol out of an automated bowser with a foreign card, was to drive back to see Matai Falls , which I had missed the day before. This was a lovely waterfall with a second fall, Horseshoe Falls as a bonus, but someone had told me that the turn – off was about 20km back immediately after the bridge, so I had an interesting detour around the countryside first, and it was just as well that the service station was open by the time I got back to Owaka, (home of the Waka or Canoe in Maori). At least the proprietors did accept my card, but be aware that this happened to me in a couple of places, so be s