The NZMCA Waimate Park is a lovely place to stay – and has dramatically increased in size since our previous visit. And it is lovely to be surrounded by lush green grass after all the dried yellow grass we saw in Otago. We are staying two nights, and although the other two vans who took part in yesterday’s Happy Hour have moved on, there are sure to be more arrivals as the day wears on.
Plenty of room for new arrivals
And here’s a photo from the archives. Dot and I were taking advantage of the warm sunny weather to keep the washing up to date here in Waimate way back in 2012. It was hands down in a bucket of water, while Muffy watched on. We have learnt our lesson now, all that hand washing and wringing out is much too hard on our hands, and these days the holiday washing gets a trip to the laundromat.
The bucket brigade from 2012
Waimate has it’s own version of a White Horse, situated high up on the hill, and looking down over the town. The monument was the inspiration of Mr Norman Hayman and modelled on the Whitehorse of England, to commemorate the work done by the Clydesdales in the agricultural development of Waimate. When we were here in Waimate in 2012, we travelled up to the hill and tried in vain to find that dratted horse, only to almost trip over it almost by accident. Read all about that our frustrating afternoon here.
The White Horse of Waimate
There are a couple of horses over the fence behind our van and they were getting most excited when they spotted a man approaching with his ute. They were running this way and that, and kept looking to see where he was. Their owner perhaps, with some extra feed for them?
Two horses getting all excited over the fence.
And still on the subject of horses – as we were exploring today we came across another monument on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. This rather unassuming stone marks the site of the first New Zealand Grand National Steeplechase held on 18th May 1875. This was unknown to us, but it’s amazing what you discover when you stop to check things out.
Monument to the first NZ Grand National Steeplechase
We drove into Knottingley Park not really knowing what to expect. The native reserve was formed on 169 acres in 1854 and the Park was opened in 1890. These days many sports clubs make use of the lovely grounds and it is a popular place for picnics and weddings.
Knottingley Park grounds
And then we discovered a lovely little motor camp tucked away, with plenty of power points, all the usual facilities, and what’s this, even a washing machine. All for $24 for two people, which isn’t too bad at all these days.
Knottingley Park Campgrounds
The main aim of our exploration today was to find the Waihao Box on the gravel beach. After a couple of false starts (compounded by roads closed with bridges no longer there) and and back tracking, we finally found the correct road to view this simple but effective engineering marvel.
The Waihao Box is an ingenious structure that helps create an opening through the gravel beach to the sea for the Waihao River. It has proved vital in preventing flooding over tens of thousands of hectares of valuable farmland and helps maintain the health of a natural wildlife habitat of national importance. There are warnings to keep right away off the gravel banks as sliding gravel is unstoppable, and there have already been fatalities there.
The Waihao Box
Financed by local farmers, the Waihao Box was built in 1910 to replace an earlier 1896 structure. The purpose of the box was to assist drainage and reduce the risk of flooding. Coarse sand and gravel slip down the banks beside the box as the water is flowing. Because there is no permanent river mouth to the Waihao catchment, the strongly-built timber box culvert prevents the shingle barrier from completely blocking the Waihao River. Therefore, the box culvert assists with drainage and reduces the risk of flooding.
It is believed that the Waihao Box is the only functioning one of its kind in New Zealand and possibly in the world. In 2010 a wooden monument was unveiled “To commemorate 100 years of benefit to drainage and recreation for the community”. We saw two elderly kayakers paddle around the calm waters of the lagoon while we were there, and Freedom Camping is permitted on the area.
Commemorating 100 years