Buckingham Street


Buckingham Street

If there’s one change that would instantly improve Arrowtown it would be to completely pedestrianise the main street of Buckingham Street. So, it was with interest that I recently read that the local council ran a trial closing the street to traffic. In a town that is quickly becoming overrun with vehicles, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds. 

Tobins Track In Autumn

Tobins Track in autumn

Before I change direction away from autumn, I thought I’d show you a few more images that haven’t been posted on my daily photo blog. This is one I took on my Arrowtown trip while wandering the autumnal Arrowtown paths (Tobins Track) near the river and Chinese Village. It really is a colour overload at times. By the time you leave the path and head back towards the town, your eyes take a few seconds to adjust from seeing colours apart from yellow, orange and the occasional red! Is that what colour theory is?   

Former Police Cottage In Arowtown.

Butlers Green and the former Police cottage

On my last morning in Arrowtown I went for a stroll along the Arrow River Bridges Trail which on my way back, linked onto Tobins Track. A trail that gently ambles its way alongside the Arrow River. When the town came into view, I made my way up onto the Village Green before headlong on Buckingham Street. From there, I took in the view that looks out over Butlers Green to the Chinese Village and the Arrow River. From that vantage point hidden amongst the trees is a former Police Cottage. Built in 1863, the old Police hut is the oldest surviving wooden building in Arrowtown and originally located in Cardigan Street, it formed part of the Arrowtown Police Camp during the gold rush.

The Kawarau Gorge

The Kawarau Gorge

Leaving the serenity of Lake Hayes, I double back to Arrowtown for one last look at the autumn colours, before starting the three hour drive to Dunedin. Before long, I had left the surrounds of Arrowtown behind, passed through Arrow Junction and the popular Gibbston Valley before getting stuck in a long line of traffic at the Nevis Bluff. The bluff is a prominent rock outcrop close to where the Nevis River meets the Kawarau River and the Kawarau Gorge begins. As I approached the bluff, up ahead a long line of traffic seemed to be building. Facing the prospect of a slow drive through the upcoming gorge, I pulled over, scrolled through a few podcasts, loaded one and set off again. 

The podcast I had finally settled on came under the category of “True Crime”.  It was about an ordinary Australian family, having an ordinary Sunday lunch that went terribly wrong. It centres around Erin Patterson, Australian lady from the town of Leongatha, Victoria who invited her former inlaws around for an afternoon meal. The tragedy occurred when guests at the lunch ate a Beef Wellington. Unfortunately, the dish was tainted with “death cap” mushrooms which left three people dead and a fourth in critical condition in hospital. Now, a year later Erin Patterson is facing criminal charges and an Australian journalist is following the court proceedings and releasing a weekly podcast called “The Mushroom Cook”. 

So, with several hours of driving ahead of me and a juicy crime filled podcast to keep me company, I settled into a long line of traffic on the winding road that heads through the Kawararu Gorge and arrives at Cromwell.

Lakes Hayes

Autumn at Lake Hayes

I arrived at Lakes Hayes to find a man peeing in the bushes. There really is nothing like arriving at a family holiday and picnicking spot to be greeted with a bit of public urination. While Lake Hayes is relatively small as lakes go (276 hectares), it’s big enough for there to be plenty of options to park, meaning I could get well away from where he was standing. As far away as I could in actual fact. 

Finding a spot that wasn’t being used as a public toilet, I abandoned my car and set off on foot enjoying my recently purchased morning sustenance. While the coffee was good, it was the cinnamon scroll that was a pleasant surprise. I hadn’t had high hopes for it but feeling the need to eat something, I gave it a go and was rather pleased with my selection. I ate as I enjoyed the still, tranquil scene in front of me. 

The morning was still relatively young and the lake was as calm as a mill pond as the sun rose from behind the hills. Every so often a group of walkers would pass by, or an overly enthusiastic couple on a bike. Out on the lake in the distance a rowing crew seemed to be enjoying having the whole place to themselves, only sharing it with a scattering of ducks and a gaggle of geese that looked like they could turn ill tempered at any moment. Still, I worked on the theory that they would leave me alone, if I didn’t disturb them. An arrangement that seemed to work just fine. Finishing my nourishment, I walked for a bit taking in my surroundings. The whole lake is surrounded by mountains that remain covered in snow for most of the year once winter hits. This gives the place a spectacular dream-like feel. Enjoying the autumn colours, I could have stayed for hours. Just as I was tempted to start negotiating with myself regarding my time of departure, A campervan with markings on its back bumper indicating a recent entanglement drove past. It was closely followed by a very expensive looking SUV. It arrived and parked almost directly beside me. In an instant, three kids ejected themselves from the backseat and in the blink of an eye they were at the edge of the lake, throwing stones at the ducks and geese. Just then one of them announced they needed the toilet! I took this as my cue to leave!

A Case of Misconception

Autumn on Lake Hayes

Before I go any further with my tale, I feel it best to clear up a little confusion. Lake Hayes (or Hay’s as it was first officially named) is not named after local Arrowtown legend and notorious scoundrel Bully Hayes. Nor is it named after pioneer Ernest Hayes who settled in the Ida Valley. The lake is named after Donald Hay, an early Scottish farmer who came to New Zealand via Western-Australia and discovered the lake after surviving a winter storm and freezing conditions while sailing over Lake Wakatipu. It seems that at some point in history an erroneous ‘e’ was added to the spelling of hays between the ‘y’ and the ‘s’ giving the spelling of Hayes instead of Hay’s. My guess, and I’m just speculating here, is that local pub landlord Bully Hayes got whammed on whisky one night and told a whopping great big lie claiming the lake was named after him! Then, history and gossip did the rest.

Arrowtown

Autumn in Arrowtown

The next morning I decided to start the day with a stroll through some autumn leaves. It was one of those cool, clear autumnal mornings where everything was covered in dew. I noted that before too long, on mornings like these a heavy frost would have settled over night. It was clear that winter was approaching so, I was pleased to be able to enjoy my surroundings as I walked along the banks of the Arrow River. Eventually, after a number of scenic distractions, I pointed myself towards my intended target. The historic Chinese Village in Arrowtown. 

In 1865, when the initial Otago Gold rush had settled, many of the miners ventured to other gold fields. Such as on the West Coast of the South Island. So, the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce decided that they wanted to keep the economy going. To do this they invited Chinese miners to the region. For many of the invited miners, the plan was to send large amounts of money home before returning themselves in a few years. So it was that by the mid-1860’s the first of the recruited Chinese miners reached the goldfields in Otago. When they arrived, they discovered they were not allowed to have claims of their own, instead being granted permission to pickover the claims European miners had abandoned. By 1876, around 4000 male Chinese could be found on the goldfields. Spread over a number of locations throughout Central Otago, one of these locations was Arrowtown. It’s a sad tale really, as many of the miners never made anywhere near enough money to send home. In fact, many of them never made it home. Penniless and persecuted by many of the Europeans, a large number of those invited to the Otago goldfields died, never seeing their families again. 

The last time I visited the Chinese Village in autumn, everywhere was covered in a blanket of colour. An autumn palette of orange, red and ochre had taken over and there was something very tranquil and surreal about the whole scene. I was very much looking forward to seeing it once again. When the Chinese miners first arrived at the gold fields to work claims that had been abandoned, they weren’t allowed to settle in the main part of the village. Instead they set up homes and market gardens on the outskirts of the town beside the river. Not more than a 5 minute walk from the town’s main street, the Chinese Village and associated tracks beside the river used to be separated by a number of paths that twisted and turned through the trees and past streams until you reached the main car park. From there, the main shopping area was a short walk past buses and vehicles of various sizes circling the town looking for a parking spot. 

In my walk to the Chinese Village, I discovered that In recent years, to solve this problem and to provide enough parking spaces for the overflow of traffic that arrives each day, the main car park has been extended towards the river. This now means there is no separation between the carpark and the scenic vistas that people have come to see. So, while there is ample room for all the daily traffic, it also means you can step straight out of your vehicle and onto a walking track. You can stroll by the Arrow River or stand by landmarks of national significance while a campervan parks right beside you or you can watch families disembark from their SUVs as the kids squabble over who’s turn it is with the iphone! There really is nothing like having a gleaming white SUV as a backdrop for a piece of 1870’s history. Feeling a little disappointed that some of the tranquillity had been lost, I meandered back through the car park and went in search of a bakery for some morning sustenance. 

A short time later, I found myself standing in a short but busy line making a careful selection from the menu on the wall behind the counter. When at last my turn came, I approached the counter and said “good morning” in the friendliest voice I could muster, while realising this was the first person I had spoken to in 12 hours! “How can I help?” came a direct yet short tone that suggested urgency and speed was paramount. Placing my order at speed that I hoped would satisfy the lady standing behind the counter, paid and waited for the transaction to complete. I waited and waited and waited as the machine whirled. I waited and waited and waited yet the machine didn’t seem to want me to leave. As I continued to wait, I could feel the unease and grumblings of the customers behind me that were being held up. I could sense their frustration and annoyance at this idiot at the front of the line as the machine continued to whirl. Just as I was considering cancelling the order (out of embarrassment as much as anything else), the machine announced ‘approved.’

Feeling a sense of relief and having held up a line that was now snaking out the door, I collected my things, apologised to everyone and scurried out onto the street hanging my head in shame! Clutching a fresh cup of coffee and a Cinnamon Scroll, I headed to my car with a mind to enjoy the fresh morning air of Lake Hayes, and that’s where I headed next.

Arrowtown’s Historic Miners’ Cottages

Arrowtown’s European miners’ cottages

Having spent the afternoon photographing a local rugby match at Jack Reid Park in Arrowtown, I retired to my hotel where I showered and changed, reorganised my gear and went in search of a local pub. Several minutes later, I found a local establishment that I decided needed further investigation. I went inside, went about making myself comfortable and invested some time in testing several pints of beer while at the same time demolishing a pulled pork burger and successfully managing to drip BBQ sauce down my top. It was while I was contemplating whether I should attempt to clean my top or test another pint when the bar staff made the surprising announcement of last orders!  Wondering if I had missed something I checked my watch to find it was all of 9:05pm. Still trying to make sense of the fact that the pub was shutting at 9:00pm on a Saturday night, several minutes later I found myself standing on Buckingham Street with half an hour to kill before the Highlanders game kicked off. So, with four pints to the wind, a full stomach and the night air starting to feel a little crisp, I decided I might as well put the time to good use and headed in a mostly straight line in search of some historic gold miners’ cottages to see if I could drink and click!

Jack Reid Park

Arrowtown v Wakatipu (13.04.24)Jack Reid Park in Arrowtown

The other day I was in Arrowtown to cover a local rugby match between Arrowtown and Wakatipu that was being played at Jack Reid Park. These aren’t two heavyweights of New Zealand rugby you’ll understand, simply two local teams that have a fierce rivalry. Whenever they play it’s called “the battle of the basin” and it always draws a big crowd and Saturday’s match was no exception. For the record, Wakatipu won 27 to 19 with low misty rain and clouds hanging around for most of the day. However, late in the match the cloud cover did clear enough for the hillside which provides the backdrop to Jack Reid Park to be exposed with all its autumn glory. As far as backgrounds go there aren’t many rugby grounds in the world that can top Jack Reid Park in autumn.

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake

This delightful scene I discovered on my way to Paradise and yes, here in New Zealand there really is a place called that. It’s located on the eastern shoreline of the Dart River at the head of Lake Wakatipu. If you’re heading to Paradise (I like being able to write that), before you get there you’ll pass Diamond Lake, a popular camping and fishing spot and a true gem of a conversation area. Actually, I spent hours there. I only stopped for a look and I ended up walking along tracks and watching all sorts of wildlife. I even went for a swim in the lake. 

The Remarkables

The Remarkables

Alexander Garvie’s career as a surveyor wasn’t particularly long, however he did achieve one remarkable accomplishment in his lifetime. British-born, Alexander Garvie left the English port of Gravesend on the ship Blundell, arriving in New Zealand in September 1848. Initially working as a carpenter and builder, Garvie retrained as a surveyor in the early 1850’s and went on to obtain the position of Assistant Surveyor in the Otago Regional Council. Taking part in many surveying developments in Otago and Southland, his most notable legacy is in naming The Remarkable mountain range in Queenstown. The story goes that during a reconnaissance survey in 1857, Garvie came into view of a spectacular and stunning mountain range that he exclaimed was “Remarkable.” Unfortunately Garvie he died only four years later in Dunedin, in 1861. For Alexander Garvie, his surveying career lasted less than 10 years but within that time he named a spectacular piece of South Island scenery.

Dusk Over The Wakatipu Basin

Dusk over the Wakatipu Basin

It’s amazing how lazy you can feel after sitting by a river all day. Having done just that, by the time evening hit the Central Otago town of Arrowtown, I started to feel like some exercise might be needed. So, as dusk approached I decided to stretch my legs with a walk up Tobins Track to see the sunset over the Wakatipu Basin. Set high above the hills of Arrowtown, Tobin’s track was originally built by Irishman Thomas Tobin who won the roading contract to link the Wakatipu Basin to the Cardrona Valley in the 1870’s.

Glenorchy Lagoon

Glenorchy Lagoon & Boardwalk

Isn’t this an outstanding spot for a place to sit and watch the world go by? It’s part of the Glenorchy Lagoon/Boardwalk which crosses wetlands that are full of bird life and surrounded by stunning mountain ranges. The track twists, turns and loops around with multiple starting and finishing points. In addition, it’s completely flat and a really easy walk which makes it perfect for a family outing. In the summer the lagoon is still, warm and full of colour whereas in the winter the mountain ranges are covered in snow and the air has a bracing chill, making it equally delightful.        

The Head of Lake Wakatipu

The Head of Lake Wakatipu – Buy 

This is one of those fabulous locations and views of Lake Wakatipu where everyone stops for a photo. However, there’s a very good reason for that, and that’s because it is a simply wonderful spot. The lookout, which can be very exposed if you are travelling on a day when a weather front of wind and rain is passing overhead, provides a glorious vista of Lake Wakatipu in the Queenstown Lakes District. Looking up to the head of Lake Wakatipu you get an outstanding view of Big Geordie Peak, Major Peak, Minor Peak, Mount Earnslaw and Cosmos Peak. While, further round is the Routeburn Valley, Mount Bonpland and the Greenstone Valley.

Glenorchy and Mt Bonpland

Mt Bonpland  – Buy 

The town of Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu is an amazing place. If you’re keen to get up early you’ll see some outstanding sunrises and in the evenings the sunsets are just as good. Add to that, in the warm summer months the dusks are long and the lake is splendid. It’s also a great access point for the Routeburn Track and the Paradise Valley.

The Remarkables

The Remarkables – Buy 

I was staying the night in Frankton near Queenstown in South Islands Lakes District. In the last few years the development and growth in Frankton has been quite amazing. So, I found myself staying there the night before an early morning flight from Queenstown Airport the next morning. Late in the afternoon I went for a walk on a section of the Twins River Trail which is part of the Queenstown Great Ride’ network that follows the iconic Kawarau and Shotover Rivers and provides wonderful views of The Remarkables.

The Red Glenorchy Shed

Store Shed At Day BreakThe Red Glenorchy Shed – Buy 

Like most towns in Otago and the Lake’s District, Glenorchy was born out of the gold rush that occurred in the 1860’s. Once Glenorchy was settled and populated by prospectors, the only real access to it was via steamers that carried people and cargo up and down the lake from Queenstown. At Glenorchy, the goods and cargo going to and from steamers on the lake was stored and sorted in a goods shed that also operated as the local station. 

As the steamers were owned by NZ Railways, Glenorchy was officially a railway station and the rails that ran from the end of the wharf to the shed were technically railway. Thus, at the time, the track that ran from the shed to the end of the wharf was the shortest piece of railway in the country.

Queenstown Towards Coronet Peak

Queenstown towards Coronet Peak – Buy 

I spent some time wandering the various streets that make up the town’s centre, I walked along the lakefront and took in the splendid scenery that surrounds the town. When I was younger, I remember Queenstown being a place with spectacular scenery, full of wonder and excitement. As you approached there was always an air of eagerness in the backseat of the vehicle my Dad was driving. Firstly you’d drive through Frankton, then the housing developments would become less frequent and almost non-existent until we passed the bottle house which was a marvel in itself. The famed Bottle House was always a clear sign that the magical place of Queenstown wasn’t too far away, until we rounded a bend and caught sight of the gondolas making their way up through the trees to the Skyline Restaurant. This was always the cue to look in amazement out the car window at the most mysterious of towns. Although it always did seem to be packed with people, rather expensive (so my parents told me) and full of construction everywhere we went. 

The Remarkables

The Remarkables – Buy 

The next day, I moved accommodation from Queenstown to Frankton as I needed to be closer to the airport. I was flying to the North Island early the following day, so I figured being a short distance from the airport would make life easier first thing in the morning. I was staying at the La Quinta Hotel and after checking-in and exploring my room for a few minutes, which included turning all the switches on and off to see what they did, I went for a walk. It was late in the day and a big bank of clouds was rolling in over The Remarkables and the Kawarau River, threatening to rain.

Kelvin Heights & The Remarkables

Kelvin Heights and The Remarkables – Buy 

At Arrowtown I took Malaghans and Gorge Road (through Arthurs Point) to Queenstown. The hills were covered in clouds and the lake was darker than expected with patches of strong wind gusts creating a choppy surface in the distance. There can be no doubt that the scenery around Queenstown is quite stunning however the lake is something just as special. People often comment about the unique colour of Lake Wakatipu, which is created by glacial dust from crushed rocks falling into the lake from rivers at the head lake I had read.  

As special as the scenery is, navigating the town can be something of a nightmare and deciding I couldn’t face the overcrowded town centre, I headed straight for my accommodation looking across the lake to the suburb of Kelvin Heights and The Remarkables.

Arrowtown

Autumn on the Arrow River – Buy 

Back in autumn I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Arrowtown. I say fortunate because I wasn’t meant to be there at all. I had planned to spend some time near Christchurch, but my accommodation was unexpectedly cancelled. So, I had to choose an alternative destination and Arrowtown was it. What a joy the town is during autumn when the colour takes hold.

Glenorchy

Glenorchy Walkway – Buy 

A few years ago I stayed in Glenorchy for almost a week, it was quite delightful. In fact, I was greatly taken by the whole area. I’ve been there many times and every time it doesn’t fail to disappoint. One of the truly magic places to visit is the Glenorchy Walkway with its views of Mt Earnslaw, Mt Alfred and the surrounding ranges. The boardwalk traverses the wetlands just north of Glenorchy and is filled native birds that call the lagoon home. It’s very splendid.