Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Vege Shed Visit & the Road to Mavora

The Vege Shed, SH6, Athol-Five Rivers Highway, Northern Southland, NZ

I mentioned in the last post from Athol that we'd be calling in at the Vege Shed as we passed on our way to the Lakes. Which we did. Twice. What a great little place, so much so that I thought it deserved a dedicated post all to itself (well nearly all to itself). The Vege Shed is the on-farm store for Athol Valley Meats, it sells meat (lamb & venison) & produce to locals and passersby from this restored 100 year old woolshed.
Bart greets the customers.

We filled our basket with fresh fruit & vegetables along with two dozen free range eggs (finally some more free range eggs!) Out of the fridge came vacuumed packed salmon, bacon & garlic flavoured mussels- well we do need to have a few treats while we're out of circulation don't we. And next came the meat, various cuts of vacuumed packed & frozen venison & lamb along with a couple of fresh selections for the next night or two.

While David chatted with Heather, the very affable owner, I wandered about filling the basket with more goodies. In the end I had to call it quits because I was unsure whether I'd be able to fit all the cold food in the fridge and freezer. We left with a huge box load of produce & a promise to toot on our way back past so Heather could check out our rig. We'd driven down without the van unsure whether we'd be able to turn around inside the yard.

Back at the van I managed to squeeze everything into the fridge & freezer with room to spare so once we were hitched up and on our way, instead of tooting we pulled in again and I bought another lot of meat & more eggs! Needless to say we have been eating like kings these past couple of weeks. Bart, the Schnauser was still parked in his spot enjoying the morning sun.  

If you are passing the Vege Shed I'd highly recommend stopping & having a look. The produce was super fresh & has lasted us well over the two weeks. And the meat has been exceptional, very tasty indeed. We especially enjoyed the venison medallions.

It was a leisurely drive of about 60kms to the Lakes although the last 34kms was on a dusty gravel road that was in need of a good grade in places. There were some quite large pot holes and the van shook about a bit. We stopped a couple of times for a walk around check inside & out but found all to be in ship-shape order. Occasionally I'll forget to stow something, usually something small like my reading glasses or the drink coasters which will have found their way onto the floor. But nothing major yet *touch wood*.

We were passing through sheep country again and also quite a number of deer farms. This area was where helicopter capture & deer farming began. There was also a lot of tussock covered hills surrounded by green stock crops & hay paddocks. The area is very dry & in need of a good dose of rain.

As we got closer to the lakes, the mountain ranges on both sides of the river valley rose steeply out of the haze. The scenery really is spectacular.

Eyre Mountains Conservation Park

Just as we were beginning to think that the gravel road was never going to end the Mavora Lakes sign appeared and we turned onto the access road. The road wound it's way through a Beech Forest beside the South Mavora Lake & we were hoping we weren't going to meet anyone coming the other way as it was very narrow & winding with many overhanging trees. The sun glistening through the branches and dancing on the road just made it harder for our eyes to adjust to the light difference.

South Mavora Lake
The Mavora Lakes consist of two lakes, North Mavora and South Mavora, they are part of Te Wahipounamu/South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area and are surrounded by an impressive landscape of mountains, forest and tussock grassland. There are many activities that can be done in the area and a lot that are not available in other National Parks, these include camping, walking, horse trekking, walking your dog, tramping, boating, fishing, mountain biking, motor biking, 4W-driving and hunting.

We signed in at the DOC information board & checked out where we might like to camp. This camp site is huge, it's 7kms from the entrance to the southern end of the North Mavora lake and camping is allowed at various areas all the way along the road and off on side tracks. There are spots beside the lakes or back up on plateau underneath the bushline. You can tuck yourselves away in a sheltered area with views of the mountains or park right on the lake. Contained "long-drop" toilets, fresh water taps & fire pits are plentiful.  We decided to drive all the way to the end checking as we went on what might be a good site. We'd decided we wanted to be beside the north lake (where motorised boats are allowed) so we could finally get the Takacat inflatable out and launch it for the very first time.

The end of the road- Mt Campbell behind the park
There was hardly anyone camping, just a few motorhomes dotted about & a couple of tents in the trees here & there. We found a great spot on a small terrace just above the lake & tucked ourselves into the side of the trees. Good protection from any southerlies &/or westerlies that might decide to pay us a visit.

It was a perfect day to arrive, as the afternoon wore on it got extremely hot & with not a breath of wind the emerald green lake looked like a millpond. We were pretty pleased with our camp site choice especially with this view looking up the lake. Mt Cerberus was just across the water and provided us with some spectacular sights over the next two weeks.

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