Akatore Creek Swamp

Akatore Creek and Swamp at Taieri Beach

Leaving the small fishing village of Taieri Mouth, I felt an urge to continue past the small township, simply because I had the time and I figured, well why not! Coming to Akatore Road which changed from the traditional tarseal to gravel, I travelled for some distance. I passed paddocks filled with sheep, farm yards, tractors and all other sorts of rural machinery that you don’t see in central Dunedin. On a whim, I called in on Taieri Beach Cemetery before rejoining Akatore Road until Akatore Creek came into view. An area that at first glance appears to be just another sleepy valley in rural Aotearoa covered in part with wetlands and swamps. Yet, it’s an area of great significance.

Located within the Tokomairiro Ecological District in the Otago Coast Ecological Region, The Akatore Creek Swamp is home to all kinds of living organisms. It’s a habitat that covers a diverse area of wetland and is an area considered nationally significant. Looking at the surrounding countryside you’d never guess, however what makes it so important is among other things, the presence of rare and threatened species such as the Fernbirds which are a declining species and the Mimulus Repens, an at-risk native plant. All of which I was quite delighted to see.

The Manuka Gorge

The Manuka Gorge

I drove through places that had names like Shingle Creek, Roxburgh, Beaumont, Lawrence and Waitahuna to name a few. Places that were born out of the search for farmland or from the discovery of gold, often a little of both. As I wound my way over the countryside I couldn’t help but think of the extraordinary efforts people had made to traverse the landscape on foot. Often walking in the bitter coldness of winter or the extreme heat of summer. The trek to the gold fields on ‘The Dunstan Range’ and the Molyneux River took nearly a week to complete. It was as daunting as it was physically gruelling and completed while carrying close to 40 kilograms of equipment on their back. Something that is impressive by anyone’s standard.

I had time to ponder all this as I found myself stuck behind a tractor! As were about ten other vehicles until the driver had the good sense to pullover, before he was forced! Now travelling at a quicker clip, eventually we left the barren countryside of Central Otago behind and dropped down onto the more lush surrounds of the Clutha District and further beyond to Dunedin.


Farm field in Clydevale

Primarily a sheep, beef and dairy farming area, you’ll find the small town of Clydevale 30 kilometres north-west of the South Otago town of Balclutha. Close by is the Danone milk factory which produces the Karicare brand of infant formula, there’s a few local businesses, a rugby club and that’s about it. Yet, there’s something quite delightful about the whole area. Maybe it’s the very big river that runs through the town or maybe it’s just that, a small country town.

Akatore Creek Road at Taieri Mouth

Akatore Creek Road

I thought I should warn you that over the next few days I’m going to be skipping around the place a fair bit as I share photos with you from towns, points of interest and random curiosities I’ve discovered. So, having said that, I’ve headed just over the hill from Taieri Mouth to Akatore Creek Road which provides access to nearby farms. I actually thought this was one long driveway as it didn’t initially look like a public road. Also, a fun fact is that the nearby Akatore Creek is home to the Fernbird which is listed as an ‘at risk and declining’ species.

The Taieri River at Taieri Mouth

The Taieri River at Taieri Mouth

Once the Taieri River reaches Henley, it heads to Taieri Mouth via the Taieri River Gorge. Along the way through the gorge, there are a number of walking tracks that take you through forests that also provide wonderful views of the river. At Taieri Mouth, which is a small fishing village, the river reaches the South Pacific Ocean and its 288 kilometre journey ends insight of Moturata Island.

Taieri Mouth Cribs

Taieri Mouth Cribs 

I stand in front of two signs. One is a formal council sign with white lettering on a blue background that reads ‘Boat Harbour’. The second is less formal. It’s made out of a surfboard that’s stuck in the ground that has red and black lettering. It reads ‘Slow Down. Free range kids! Slow!’ As I look at the surfboard my eyes drift across the road to a crib close by. For a moment my mind skips between the words crib and batch. My thoughts linger on how the use of the word crib or batch depends on where in Aotearoa you’re from. My attention moves back to the crib, then the surfboard, then finally once more to the crib.  

The longer I look the more I notice various objects like; flagpoles, boats, flower pots, ornamental fish and a lifebuoy. My eye drifts over the whole scene and arrives back at the surfboard and a boat not far off. It all seems so very typical backyard Aotearoa