Monday, 7 August 2017

Into the Interior- Ashburton Lakes; Part 1

Catch-up- July

After our initial stay in Christchurch we had to be back in the city three weeks later for another appointment so to fill in the time we headed to the interior.  High country Canterbury is one area we haven't explored in great detail and with winter in full swing we thought it would be a great chance to check out the scenery and hopefully experience some snow. Well, if you're going to do winter you might as well do it properly I say. 

Great signs to direct people around the farm buildings.
We'd had enough of  grey overcast nondescript days in Christchurch, so we headed south-west to Mt Somers first, with a plan to slowly move up SH77, known as the Scenic Inland Route (not to be confused with the temporary alternative inland route from Picton to Christchurch), onto SH72, around to Kaiapoi, and back to Christchurch. Well, that was the plan but you know us, our standby motto, when asked where we're off to next, is 'Ask us tomorrow'. Our plans are always fluid, that's what we love about this lifestyle.


Mt Somers Village is the gateway to the Ashburton Lakes, nine lakes that are part of the vast 60,000 hectare Hakatere Conservation Park which is bordered on two sides by the upper reaches of Rakaia & Rangitata Rivers and includes wide sweeping valleys, beautiful tussocklands, beech forest, wetlands and rugged mountain country. 


Twenty three kilometers of sealed road takes us through established sheep country and newly converted dairy farms, right to the edge of the Hakatere Park and the historic restored farm buildings of Hakatere Station. The buildings were bought by the National Heritage Fund in 2008 and are now managed by DOC in partnership with the Hakatere Heritage Committee.

The singlemen's or shearer's quarters (top left, below) was built in the 1870s and was added onto as the need arose. Between 1960 & 1980 up to 14 men lived in these quarters at any one time. Other buildings included a farm cottage, the cook's house, a killing shed and chicken house.


The stone cottage was built in 1862 and is thought to be the oldest building in mid-Canterbury. It was once the home of the 'head shepherd' and then became the 'married quarters'. It wasn't always lived in, it was once the post office for the area and then later used for storage.

I was excited to find behind the buildings an authentic 'Bitches Box'. I've known of them in the past but ever since the Kiwi stage show (held in woolsheds around the country) of the same name brought the name to the forefront I'd wondered if  I'd ever actually see one on our travels. 

Being brought up on a small (in comparison to today's) dairy farm, there was no need for a 'bitches box' with just one farm dog, but on a large sheep station with dozens of dogs, there would be every need. And in case you're wondering what the heck it is, it's exactly what it says- it's where the bitches (female farm dogs) were locked away while on heat. To keep them out of harm's way. I didn't know they were up on stilts though, but I guess that makes sense, any passing (or escaped) dogs couldn't break in. Poor girls, I hope the front dropped down so they at least had a view.


This old dinghy was displayed in one of the yards too. It was used for recreation and lived most of it's days beside an old hut at Lake Emma (one of the Ashburton Lakes).


Click on the photo to enlarge if you'd like to read more about the dinghy. I wonder if the 'blue duck' that is mentioned being shot is the same Blue Duck/Whio that we know of today, and that this is one of the reasons they're no longer found in the Canterbury high country and critically endangered elsewhere.


After exploring the farm buildings we headed off again, we're now onto gravel and we still have another 30kms to travel. Our destination is much further inland, right at the end of the road, towards those beautiful mountains in the background.


Our next stop is at Lake Clearwater for lunch. Just before we reach the lake the recent snowfall becomes obvious with snow still lying in the shadow of banks and trees and on the leeside of the nearby hills. The road just before the lake is covered in compacted snow and ice and it's lucky that there are some tree fellers (3 fellas) with heavy machinery that have stirred up the surface in places which makes it easier for us to cross.


There are actually two lakes here in this wide mountain valley; Lake Camp on the southern side of the road...


...and beautiful Lake Clearwater on the north side, with snow covered Mt Potts towering behind.


Lake Clearwater and the surrounding conservation land are the summer playground of many Cantabrians and there's quite a large village of baches and holiday homes overlooking the lake.


Other than the tree fellas we have the whole place to ourselves, it's a beautiful sunny day but there's a ice cold breeze blowing through. 


We have a welcome hot soup and a sandwich at a picnic table overlooking  the lake (another perfect lunch spot) and once I've finished I wander down to the lake edge taking a few photos of the baches along the way. 



Being a conservation area and also a wildlife reserve no dogs are allowed inside the park, there's  a very large sign back near the Hakatere farm buildings and several reminders along the road.


Powered boats are also not allowed on the Lake Clearwater but are allowed on Lake Camp. 


In the perfect spot down at lake level there's a camping ground, it's $10 per vehicle which you place in the honesty box, there's no power and limited facilities. I guess it would be a great spot in the summer, but now it's very cold, the water supply has frozen and the ground is covered in snow.


The village was so photogenic it was hard  to stop shooting but we still had a way to go, a couple of exciting places to visit and the afternoon was marching on... to be continued; Part 2

I've saved this Lake Clearwater pano for the last photo on this blog (click to enlarge). It's to mark an occasion or perhaps that should be an achievement. This is my 700th blog post! Phew! Seven hundred posts and most of them several screens long (that's computer speak for pages). That's one hell of a lot of writing and just as much clicking (and one patient husband). It's just lucky that I enjoy what I'm doing. And many, many thanks to my loyal readers, you make it all worthwhile. Here's to the next 700...




14 comments:

  1. Great shots, we went in autumn, and it was cold, but lovely, with very few people around, and they were repairing the married quarters stone cottage. The flyhing bugs were too much for me at Clearwater, so we camped among the trees at Lake Camp. Was a lovely few days.

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    1. That would have been a special time, especially having the place to yourself. There were no bugs at the lake for us....it was far, far too cold! :)

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  2. Congrats on 700 posts...it really shows.
    We visited the same area in summer, with powerboats and kids motocross bikes doing laps around the lake. No frosts or snow for me!
    If you haven't already please check out the Lake Coleridge area.
    Enjoy

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    1. Thanks Jimu and I bet you've read everyone of them! Yes, I can see Lake Clearwater would indeed be very busy over summer. A pop-up town in the back blocks! :)

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  3. Absolutely fantastic photo's... thank you and love your blog/s..

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    1. Many thanks MoreporkOwl, much appreciated (love the name too!).

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  4. Great write up and photos. Cheers Leonie (Secretary Hakatere Heritage Committee.

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    1. Thanks Leonie, glad you enjoyed the blog. Part 2 is up now and as I said elsewhere there'll be another blog soon that has snow around the buildings.

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  5. Now that I'm temporarily resident in Canterbury Hakatere is rapidly becoming my new favourite place. Camped there back in late May, a mere -4 overnight! And revisited a couple of weekends ago, looking forward to revisiting as the seasons progress.

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    1. Hi Lisa, an awesome playground right on your doorstep not to mention a photographers dream! I'm sure you'll visiting often.

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  6. Congratulations... that's a whole lot of blog :)
    I'm hoping in your next blog that you're heading for the Edoras film location. Please :) :)

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    1. Well, you already know the answer to the one! I did it just for you ;) Thanks for the good wishes too.

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  7. Congratulations, wow, 700 blogs and I have lots to catch up on. I love your blogs, always interesting and great photography.

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    1. Thanks Carol, much appreciated. Yes, one day I'll have to sit down and read back through the early posts, it's amazing the little details you forget about.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.