For Goldfields Cavalcade photos 2010, click here.
For photos of the Christchurch to Greymouth TranzAlpine railway, click here
On February 15th 2010 at 4pm I left for Queenstown, New Zealand. Ten hours flying in the daylight to Los Angeles then 12 hours flying in the dark over the Pacific Ocean, arriving at dawn in Auckland. A change of plane then to Christchurch and then by turbo-prop to Queenstown, where landing requires losing height, throttling back and banking steeply between mountain peaks in order to line up with the runway. A nerve-racking experience for an infrequent flyer like me.
I stayed at Walter Peak High Country Farm on the shore of Lake Wakatipu across from Queenstown. Between the two plies the Earnslaw, a beautifully maintained coal-fired steamer which makes the journey in 45 minutes carrying goods and tourists who want to have a meal, a farm tour or a horse ride. Daughter Katie works there in the restaurant.
On 20th February I travelled 70 km north to Wanaka, on the shore of the lake of the same name, from where on 23rd February I began a 4 day tramp (hike) with the 62 strong “Minaret Marauders” as part of the Central Otago Goldfields Trust’s annual “Cavalcade”. This year the Cavalcade has been hosted by Wanaka.
580 people joined The Cavalcade trails which cover the rugged hills, rock-faced gullies and tussock covered plains of Central Otago, a region famed for its vast open spaces, dramatic scenery and sparsely populated settlements.
The Cavalcade was organised into three walking trails which took three to five days, four riding trails that take six to seven days crossing Otago’s dramatic hills and rivers plus two wagon trails that take five days each. The Cavalcade covered tracks and land not normally available to the public. It is a very special experience for the Kiwis who love their country and who are happy to share it with people who also appreciate and respect its grandeur and uniqueness.
Each trail took a different route before arriving back in Wanaka on 27th February for a very well attended grand parade through the town and later a “hoe-down” dance. The sight of hundreds of horses and riders in the grand parade is something I and most people will never have seen before and the road was lined several people deep as we walked and rode into town on a warm summer’s day in bright sunshine.
The Minaret Marauders trail covered about 60km over 4 days, climbing 1,500ft on several occasions. We slept in wool sheds (where sheep are sheared and the wool baled), had 3 boat trips and washed in the lake when we could. I spent one night sleeping outside under the stars with my glasses on so I could see the star and galaxy formations, which are different from ours in the northern hemisphere.
Finally after changing into period costume we travelled across the lake on the barge belonging to the owner of Minaret Station to join the road back to Wanaka.
Minaret Station runs 28,000 sheep and a deer rearing operation but has no road access. The barge carries goods and vehicles across the lake to and from the farm.
The road to Wanaka
On the morning of 20th February 2010 Katie, Lloyd and I set out from Walter Peak Station, a 65,000 acre farm where Lloyd keeps his horses. While they got the beasts on the trailer, I photographed the paddock and the lake beyond.
From Queenstown, Wanaka is 70km by road. From Walter Peak Station, only 8 km from Queenstown across the lake, Wanaka is 268 km by road, (view route on Google Maps) as you have to go around the mountains. So that’s what we did. The track from Walter Peak Station also goes through St Nicholas Station from where I took this view of Lake Wakatipu. After 40km of dusty farm track we met a tarmac road.
I have created a gallery of some photos of the Minaret Marauders which can be viewed here (opens new window). The panorama below is one of dozens I could have taken. Around every bend was another breathtaking view through clean clear air down to the lake water which is more than clean enough to drink directly.
Planning for the 2011 event is already under way and the Cavalcade is scheduled to head for the South Island’s historic town of Oamaru.
I intend to be there…..
Ben Lomond Views
Wed 3rd March 2010. I did the Ben Lomond Walkway today. You can see the route here
Started from Lake Wakatipu (300m above SL) Queenstown and climbed 1000m to “The Saddle” where the track takes a left turn for the last 450m to the summit (1750m above SL). The 3000ft climb was the equivalent of climbing Snowdon (1085m) from sea level. It was getting cold in a strong wind so I didn’t go the rest of the way up to the summit. Nevertheless, it was the biggest climb I’ve ever done in a single session!
Stewart Island to Bluff Ferry
On 15th March 2010 I took the small catamaran ferry the 25 miles across the Foveaux Straight from Oban on Stewart Island to Bluff on the southern tip of New Zealand. The day before all the ferries had been cancelled due to high seas. This video captures the beauty and power of the sea I experienced that day.
The other 50 or so passengers were behind me inside under cover. Occasionally one would venture out, groan and go back in again. Our luggage is in those tarpaulin covered tubs. The one hour trip across the Foveaux Straight will challenge even the strongest stomach. Brilliant.
Here is a video giving a flavour of the 2010 Cavalcade. My brief appearance starts 3 minutes 9 seconds into the video, walking away from the camera next to Bruce Spittle, the eminent Moa expert.
↑ Back to top ↑