We did a bit of a “Grand Tour” today – it certainly seemed like it, travelling far and wide to places unknown, and covering about 150kms on our round trip. One thing we did notice were many of these pumps/pipes on farms as we passed by, presumably to get artesian water from the water table for irrigation. If we are not right in our assumption, please feel free to correct us.
For artesian water, we think
First stop was up SH77 to Methven, (a place we had been before), which had the feel of an alpine village, not unlike Ohakune in the North Island.
There were two large pubs on opposite sides of the road, the Brown Pub, and the Blue Pub, both vying for business in their own ways. The Brown Pub was selling itself as “your true country pub”, while the blue pub was more trendy and part of a large resort. With Methven not too far from the Mount Hutt Ski fields, there is sure to be plenty of customers for both.
Brown Pub and Blue Pub at Methven
Magnificent War memorial at Methven
Climbing the hill out of the Rakai Valley, we stopped to take in the wonderful views.
Views over the Rakaia River
We were making for the Lake Coleridge Power Station, the first large powerhouse built by the government, completed in 1914. The construction was a remarkable feat for that time, as it was built on loose shingle of the Rakaia River, which lead to many engineering problems which needed to be solved.
Front and back views of the power station
There was a large info board to read, and old bits and pieces from the power house artfully displayed. The intake pipes from Lake Coleridge snaked down the hill deliver the water to the power house.
Once we had seen the power house, we had to go and find the lake – and off we went, bouncing along a narrow, winding, unsealed road. Must admit we were surprised to see several cars of tourists when we arrived, we really felt that we were all alone as we travelled along. Swimmers and boaties were warned to be aware as whirlpools form by the intake area. Fishing is allowed, with chinook salmon, and both brown and rainbow trout in the lake.
Back on the rough road we went, kicking up a dust trail behind us. But look at this wonderful view – it certainly is desolate mountain country. Then we had to turn left at Dog Box Corner.
Turning off the dirt road we joined SH72 and stopped briefly at the quaintly named village of Windwhistle. These day it is just a shadow of it’s former self, with only a school and a mechanic’s garage there now. Windwhistle takes it’s name from the fierce gale force winds which regularly occur.
I wanted to stop further along the road at Glentunnel as I had read about the “world famous in New Zealand” Public Library and Post Office, and what a gorgeous little building it is. The local citizens raised money to build the library on land donated by Mr Deans of Homebush. Built by Thomas Lamport, the building incorporates every type of brick and terra cotta tile then produced by the Homebush Brick Tile and Pottery Works at Glentunnel, using local clay. Sadly, the library was not open so we could not have a look inside.
Glentunnel Library and Post Office
Like so many of these small towns, Glentunnel had a history of coal mining, as their welcome sign shows. The coal mine opened in 1872, the men working with the picks and shovels used in those days. The mine finally closed in 1938.
Driving through Hororata we passed the St John’s Stone Church which was badly damaged in the 2010 earthquakes and is yet to be repaired. Then we finally joined the busy SH1 and we were back in Ashburton and the quiet and peace of our POP with the chickens and miniature ponies once again. It was another great day spent sightseeing.