After thunder and a heavy downpour the previous night, we woke up to a misty morning. Not too hot, so it was a good day to go exploring. And the first thing we found, almost on our back yard, was a tiny little power station with water piped down the hill to feed it.
Teviot Bridge Power Station
From our campsite we could look across to the hills to see one of the several places where the devastating November 2017 flash floods brought down rocks and debris. Stake Highway 8 was damaged north and south of Roxburgh, with large volumes of debris. The flash flooding closed roads, leaving the small town isolated and without water with residents cleaning up mud and silt.
Rocks and debris roared down the hill and down to the river blocking the wide drain
The damage caused the very popular Jimmy’s Pies to close for a week or so and we remember that the reopening made the news. So we just had to put Jimmy’s Pies on our list for items of interest in Roxburgh. As expected it was very busy indeed and we purchased two pies for our evening meal. The business started in Invercargill in the late 1940s and moved to Roxburgh in 1960. Still family run, the fourth generation is still making pies using the same original recipe and natural ingredients.
Statue of the original Jimmy the baker and his “world famous in Roxburgh” shop
Even the gutters are interesting in Roxburgh as they seem to be laid with slabs of rock.
As far as public toilets go, (very necessary for the traveling public and locals out shopping) some can be downright nasty. Not so in Roxburgh – they were bright and shiny and very modern, with doors which talk to the patrons as they close and reopen. The lovely sculpture close by was made by local metal artists Bill and Michelle Clarke. They created the 1880s-themed scene next to public toilets, which took six months to create, at a cost of $50,000.
Sculpture of mining family
We then travelled to view the Roxburgh Dam, just a short 9km drive from town and very accessible. The Roxburgh Dam is the earliest of the large hydroelectric projects in the southern South Island, and lies across the Clutha River. The dam contains over 1.5 million tonnes of concrete with eight turbine generator units. Lake Roxburgh, formed by the dam, covers an area of nearly six square kilometres. Lake Roxburgh is popular for fishing, kayaking, jet boating and water skiing, and salmon and brown trout can be caught in the lake year round.
Traffic could drive across the top of the dam, so of course we did.
There are signs of the rail line from earlier years, and this old goods shed. The line was originally started to get into the gold mining areas in Otago, but was completed through to Roxburgh mainly for the carriage of fruit. Originally known as the Lawrence Branch, it was one of the longest construction projects in New Zealand railway history, beginning in the 1870s and not finished until 1928. The full line was closed in 1968.
Old good shed
We stopped to look at an unusual site on Loop Road, an old stone building in disrepair. What could it be, we wondered? It was such a massive size, and if we were in England we could almost blame Henry VIII for it’s ruin. Mr Google told us that the Teviot Woolshed was erected in 1870 and was once the largest woolshed in the southern hemisphere. Measuring 137 by 47.3 metres it could hold more than 8,000 sheep. Stories suggest the shed came from England, where it had been a railway station before being dismantled and shipped all the way to New Zealand. A fire in 1924 destroyed much of the shed, with just the stone walls with rounded façade and arched windows remaining today.
Remains of the stone Teviot woolshed
Faigan’s Café at Miller’s Flat had been recommended to us for lunch, so that’s where we were heading for. Situated close to the very popular Rail Trail, cyclists hobbled off their bikes looking for a little R&R before continuing on their trip. The café was very accommodating, and supplied bike racks outside for his cycling customers. The food was great, (Faigan’s Hamburger for him, and pulled beef Open Sandwich for her) the coffee was excellent, and we loved the use of old stenciled timber crates in the decoration. What was really nice was the fact that Mike greeted each customer as they entered, and took the time to farewell them when they left.
Lunch at Faigan’s Café, Miller’s Flat
Just along the road was the War Memorial dedicated to the fallen men of the area
After all this sightseeing we stopped off to buy some eggs from one of the local producers. Then it was time to head back to our van, put the kettle on, and relax. We had a great day exploring the area.