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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cromwell - 26 December 2011 - 2 January 2012

Uncle Roddus Holiday Adventures.

This year, for the holiday period, Mrs. Roddus and I got to spend several days down in Cromwell with her family and we got to play tourists for a change. There is plenty to see and do down there and the week passed very quickly.
Heading off early on Boxing day, we took the inland scenic route from home with our first rest stop at Geraldine before heading on to Fairlie, where we had an early picnic lunch. Another short rest stop at Tekapo for ice cream then onto Lake Pukakai where we stopped to admire Aoraki on a wonderfully fine day. The next stop was the Salmon Farm at Wairepo, where we enjoyed feeding the salmon and purchased a nice large slab of salmon to take with us to Cromwell. Our last stop before our destination was Omarama, where there is a fabulous antique and curio store with lots of interesting old books, one of Mrs. Roddus's favorite shops and I managed to find an interesting book for myself. We arrived at Cromwell in the mid afternoon to very hot temperatures and soon after unpacking the car at the Mother-In-laws, spending some time catching up with her, it was off the the Brother-In-Laws for a nice dip in his pool.
Our first excursion out while on holiday was to take a drive to see Alexander, which gave me the opportunity to see the Clyde Dam, after which we went for a short womble round the Beautiful and historic gold mining town of Clyde. One icream later we were back on the road to Alexander, where the Rail Trail Mountain bike trail begins. Alexander is a lovely town, but was a little disappointing after Clyde and apart from looking at a few shops(most of which were still closed for the holidays) a big book fair and a coffee, we didn't stay too long. Then back to Cromwell to hide in the swimming pool as the temperature at Alex was 34C.
The following day was a lazy day, reading and relaxing and swimming and going for coffee, but later in the day when things cooled off I went for a walk up the side of the hill beside lake Dunstan, overlooking Cromwell, to enjoy the rock formations and the views over the lake and township.
Day Four, I was gonna go tramping. My intention was to drive too Queenstown and Climb Ben Lomond, behind Queenstown. I had had another intention to do a walk up Wye Creek, but that was going to take too long to do in one day and I had no gear for overnight tramping. After getting to Queenstown but not finding the start of the track where it said in my tramping book, I finally located the start but then saw that the walking time up and back wasn't going to allow me to get back to Cromwell in time to pick up Mrs. Roddus and her Mum, as we were going out for dinner and a movie in Arrowtown. Also I decided it was going to be much too hot to climb 1300M that day. When I got back to Cromwell, I decided to fill in the rest of the afternoon with a short walk around the old gold mining sluicing at Bannockburn, and what an interesting little trip that was.
Day 5, I took Mrs Roddus for a drive into have a look at Skippers canyon. A spectacular place and a very hair raising road into this amazing old gold mining site. Took quite a while to drive in with plenty of stops for photos and then a short walk and a picnic before heading out again. I won't say too much about it here but let some of my photos show a bit of what it was like. After leaving Skippers Road, we decided to pop up the the Cardrona Ski field to enjoy the views, probably the best access road to any ski field in NZ.
New Years Eve and Mrs Roddus was helping her mother unpack her house after moving down to Cromwell only a couple of months before, to escape the continuing earthquakes Christchurch is still having(apparently 9427 shakes since the big on of Sept 4 2010). Uncle Roddus decided to fill in the morning by visiting the old gold mining site on the Kawarau River, a spot I have driven past many times over the years but never had the opportunity to stop. For a cheap $20 I got to do a self guided tour around the old working and a bit of gold panning at the end. Filled in the morning nicely. The afternoon was spent enjoying the old building and a coffee in old Cromwell town with Mrs. Roddus before heading out for a Thai Meal at a local restaurant, where I ordered a medium hot pork chili meal that nearly took my head off and had me sweating like a triathlete. I would hate to try one of their hot meals. The last few hours of the year were spent with the rest of the In-Laws playing Cranium before retiring soon after midnight as we were going to head off early and go to Dunedin.
New Years Day we were off early as we wanted to get to Dunedin early enought to book a ride on the afternoons Taieri Gorge Rail trip. Aftere the loveley scenic drive through the wonderful rocky landscape on the otherside of Alexander, We stopped at the lovely town of Lawrence, where we were suppose to have breakfast, but the cafe that had been reccommended was closed down, so after a cuppa and a look at some of the very cool buildings, we continued on to Dunedin, where we managed to get tickets for that afternoons train trip. January 2nd was time to go home.
Any how, enough of my dribble, please enjoy some photos from our travels that will give a much better insght into what we saw.

Uncle Roddus at Lake Pukaki on Boxing day, with Aoraki in the distance.

Salmon feeding frenzy as we throw in the pallets they gave us to feed them.

Uncle Roddus by the Clyde Dam which was completed in the late 80s or early 90s and helps form Lake Dunstan.

Main Street in the historic and picturesque town of Clyde, just below the dam.

The Clyde Dam end of Lake Dunstan.

This very cool clock is built on the side of the hill above Alexander.

The very cool old bridge over the Clutha River in Alexander.

This shot was taken on my small walk on the hills above Cromwell. The ground is very very dry, almost desert like up here and the small plants are thyme, so there was a nice strong oder up there. Looking at this landscape I felt like I was in some western movie and expected to see some desperado's hiding amongst the rocks.

A great shot of The Cromwell township. The curving waterway is the Kawarau River where it meets the Clutha. Before the Dam, this junction use to be a deep gorge with Old Cromwell town built on land now under water, near the original rivers edge. I remember seeing the old Cromwell bridge, which is now 10m under water, right in front of me here,  when they were starting to fill the lake back in 91'.

More cool rock formations.

I could tell people I was on Mars(I think the blue sky might give it away).

The Bannockburn sluicing. The landscape here was drastically altered by washing away the soils in the search for gold. This area and others we explored were the scenes of the great Otago Gold Rush of the early 1860s. Another landscape that made me think of Western movies.

More of the Bannockburn gold sluicing.

This was a man made water race.

he remnants o Stewart Town, above the Bannockburn Sluicing.

Quite incredible the damage they did with giant water blasters and this was before the days of electric pumps.

Watch out for Orcs.

Looking back up the sluiced valley from the photo above.

A shot of the vast area sluiced.

CBD, Arrowtown.

A town of hardened criminals.

The warning sign for Skippers Road.

The area behind Queenstown, from near Skippers Road.

The Drive into Skippers.

Spectacular rock formations and hills

More Hills and rocks from Skippers Road.

great shot of the Shotover River from Skippers Road.

Down in the Shotover River Bed, note the road cut into the cliffs.


Shotover River.

This is the bridge from where loony people bungy on the Shotover.

The big scare opposite is where the old timers sluiced for gold on the Shotover River back in the 1860s.

Skippers Bridge, which appears to be another place where loonys jump off.

A wonderful camping spot, to which we will be returning to spend some more time one day.

The old Aurum Station House which had been restored as an historic place.

The restored schoolhouse.

Another lovely shot of the Shotover River. We didn't see the Shotover Jet operating.

But we did see these guys on the way back out. A must do next time.

I think this is called Castle rock, although from other angles it could be called Penis Rock. That is Skippers Road below it.

The views from Cardrona.

This is the entrance to the old gold fields on the Kawarau river.

A nice shot of the Kawarau looking towards Cromwell.

This is Chinatown in the gold fields, these huts were re-created for a movie back in the early 90s of which I can't remember the title, but the lady at reception said it was pretty boring. I believe that this particular area was the site if the first gold finding in Otago and was mined at different levels and times upto the 1920s.

More China town.

Another shot of the Kawarau River looking towards Queenstown.

One of the water Cannons used for sluicing.

Battery used for crushing rock to extract gold.

A shot of old Cromwell, these buildings were relocated and restored when to lower township was flooded by the Dam.

Old Cromwell.

Dunedin Railway Station and the Tairei Gorge Train.

This Photo and the rest that follow were taken from the train on the upper reaches of the Tairei River Gorge before reaching Pukerangi from where the train heads back to Dunedin. The land above this beautiful gorge is quite flat, very dry looking with lots of rock outcrops, but you wouldn't know it when in the Gorge, it looks so different.

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