Wednesday 4 December 2013

Meyers Pass, Waimate

Next stop was the NZMCA Park at Waimate, another great little site just on the edge of town. It was obviously once a dairy farm, here we are parked beside the old milking shed, they must have had small cows, tiny herds & short farmers back then. Nothing like the huge dairy sheds we've seen on our travels. Up behind us on the hill is the "famous in Waimate" White Horse, a nod to the work Clydesdales did in breaking in the farms around the district.

We've been very impressed with beautifully kept towns that we've been passing through on our way south, lovely towns with lots of old buildings, mostly brick & stone. Of course I've been taking plenty of church photos so we get to see some of the town back streets. In Waimate, while not "pretty" this very old flour mill is right on the main street at the end of town. The plaque reads: "Built in 1890, the mill produced a range of products including flour which won awards at the Anglo-Japanese exhibition, London, 1910, at the Festival of Empire, London, 1911 and at the Auckland Exhibition 1913-14."  The building & the silos are rated Historic Places.

On Tuesday we decided to do a 4 hour round trip and cross over Meyers Pass which started inland from Waimate through the Hunter Hills to the Waihao basin where the Pass started climbed up & over and then dropped down into the magnificent Waitaki River valley ending in Hakakaramea. We'd been told about it by a couple who we'd met at the Park & as it was a beautiful clear sunny blue sky day, it was a perfect day to go exploring.
A patchwork of fields along the way
For the last few days I had been fighting an urge to change our travel plans & head inland to Burkes Pass & Lake Tekapo & continuing south from there. And the reason? The famous lupins are in full bloom and the timing would have been just perfect for some great photos against the lakes & mountains. But, I didn't want to pre-empt our travel in this area next year & it would have also added quite a bit of mileage to the trip. So I resisted. Just. And I was rewarded, well it was a small consolation really, we came across some lupins on the road to the Pass. Not the masses & masses that I could have seen but enough to take a few photos & whet my appetite for next year when we'll definitely be waiting for the bloom in Central Otago.

At the beginning of the Pass, the signs told the story, there were about 8 gates on the road but I only had to open 3 of them, we saw a few cows and a dozen or so sheep but I'm guessing that the fenced areas are huge & remote and a lot of the stock would have been way back in the hills. I'm sure this road wouldn't be suitable to cross in the winter, there would be snow on the surrounding hills and probably deep on the road as well.

We saw these cool flowers spikes on what looked like some sort of tussock, the area was fenced off so it's obvious of some importance. The historic stone bridge was built in 1879 and the only one we crossed although we passed over a few dry fords.

The views were fabulous and landscape fascinating & the road not too rough either. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip & will plan to do many more of these remote routes in time.

Waitaki River valley
It was with some surprise that we spotted a figure walking towards us when towards the end of the Pass. You don't expect to see a person out for a Sunday walk in such a remote area and on such a hot day. We stopped to check he was OK, which he was & then saw his car further on down the valley.

Waimate is wallaby country & we saw a couple of  "flat" examples along the road through the Pass but it wasn't until we saw one dead on the side of the road driving back home that I got David to stop so I could take a photo just to prove that there are wild wallabies out there. Another unwanted introduced Australian that has become a pest, the wallaby was liberated in the area in 1874 by the first European settler to the area. The local habitat must have suited them because luckily this is the only area of NZ that they are located (other than a few on Kawau Island in the Hauraki Gulf up north, & oh, a few in the Rotorua area)

We crossed over the huge Waitaki River to have our lunch in Kurow. The two very long & very old & rickety bridges are in the process of being replaced.

There is obviously a battle going on as to who has the brightest coloured pub in town. I'm sure they are a treat to the eyes in the middle of the winter though, when the town is snowed in.


Heading for home we followed the river through the valley where once again there were so many irrigators & dairy conversions happening. And so many Devan water tanks everywhere, now that would be a great business to own! :)

We stopped under one of the irrigators that reached out over the road to wash the dust off the ute.

We passed this historic cob cottage along the way. It was built around 1880 from Penticotico clay & tussock & was occupied by a local farmer, James Paterson & his family. He also sold liquor & provided casual accommodation to passing drovers.

The long road home- are your eyes deceiving you?


  1. I'm way behind. But we just missed you. We rode up to the pass on our mountain bikes in the afternoon & had a good talkl to the gentleman walking. It was a lovely ride.

    1. Hi Brian, how about that! I can't believe you were that close! It is certainly a small, small world. And, I mean, there was hardly anybody about except for the road gang which also seemed rather strange way out in the wops. I guess our paths will cross a little closer sometime in the future.


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