Butchers Dam – Buy
Am I alone in thinking that driving New Zealand roads isn’t the majestic, relaxing pastime it once was? All too often the journey is filled with morons with caravans who drive at 20 km/h an hour, idiots in campervans who seem to be permanently lost and Leaf drivers who pull out in front of you and drive like they are at the front of the parade. Then, just as you break free from this challenge to your patience you come across a 10 kilometre stretch of road that is reduced to 30km/h and a single lane, just so 6 guys can fill in a pothole.
Thus it was that I found myself on a stunning Sunday afternoon in mid-January, driving in a long line of traffic through Alexandra’s dry, rocky and dramatic landscape, slowly losing the will to live! By the time I reached a place called Butchers Dam, with 10 kilometres until Alexandra, my sanity couldn’t take it any more, so I called in at Flat Top Hill Picnic and Conservation Area and went for a stroll around the lake.
Butchers Dam In Alexandra – Buy
Despite having driven through the Central Otago township of Alexandra many times, it’s not a place I had really spent any great length of time in, since my childhood. So, with a few days spare during the winter months, I decided to base myself at a local hotel and set about exploring the area. Over the preceding days I explored numerous walking tracks through the hills, found disused cemeteries and visited dams in relative isolation.
Butchers Dam – Buy
It was while admiring the lovely sights of Butcher’s Dam that I decided it’s a shame it’s there at all. I’m not opposed to the dam, and the area is very nice. Not only is there a dam and lake to enjoy, but it also contains a historic hut, a multitude of tracks to walk and even a conservation area above it at a place called Flat Top Hill.
However, before the dam was built between 1935 and 1937 during the great depression, the area was filled with all sorts of buildings and structures from the gold mining years of the 1860’s. Once gold was discovered there in 1862, miners from everywhere flocked to the area and a town quickly sprung up. The town included a Hotel, a store, butchers shop and market gardens that were owned by Chinese prospectors.
As I walked along the dam I imagined how wonderful it would be to see the remains of the historic town that would have stretched through the valley and what a shame it is that those remains are lost forever. Still, the lake is very nice!