Thursday, 17 April 2014

Cromwell & Lake Dunstan

Our first port of call after leaving Athol was Kingston, a quiet little township on the southern shores of Lake Wakatipu and famous for the “Kingston Flyer” an historic steam train that, until recently, carried tourists on a scenic journey between Kingston and Fairlight, 14kms further south (and where we’d called in to see the station when we went looking for trout).

Sadly money woes have forced the enterprise to be mothballed and it is obvious that a huge injection of money is needed if the steam train is ever to run again. It was very sad to see the engines & carriages along with the buildings starting to show signs of neglect. And such a pity for the town too, while we were there at least half a dozen or so motorhomes pulled in to the car park to walk around the rail station and along the fence surrounding the trains.

On the way out of town I grab a quick shot of a wheely weird fence :)

I walked through the trees to take a photo of the lake and this friendly dog came to greet me. Her master was sitting on the beach talking on a phone further down. I gave her a pat and then told her to “sit” & “stay” and she did! A very willing subject.

We took our time travelling up the lake edge & stopped at the Devils Staircase to take in the views.


Not too far from Queenstown I could see Cecil Peak Station across the water, Cecil Peak is the station further on around the point from Walter Peak Station which we visited by road while staying at Mavora Lakes. The difference being that there is no road access to Cecil Peak Station, everything, including vehicles & stock, are shipped by barge from Queenstown.

We by-pass Queenstown, we’ll visit there soon enough, and continued on through the spectacular  Kawarau Gorge to Cromwell, stopping for a late lunch beside the iconic and very large “fruit” display. Cromwell is the fruitbowl of the South & is well known for the delicious apples, apricots & cherries grown locally although I think vineyards might just be taking over this dry & dusty countryside.

Just 3 kilometres out of town on the shores of Lake Dunstan is our next destination, Lowburn Harbour, this is where we’ll be staying for the next 3 nights. Lowburn Harbour is a freedom camping site- although I'm not so sure the word should be “freedom”- freedom to me is stopping wherever the fancy takes you, within reason. But many NZ councils have by-laws that prohibit freedom camping as we know it. Their freedom camping is allocating a few areas where it is possible to stay “free” as long as you are self contained. These sometimes come with restrictions; either a maximum number of nights you are allowed to stay or a maximum numbers of vehicles allowed to park overnight. Lowburn allows a stay of 3 nights although we failed to see anybody checking on that and we know that some stayed longer.

The park was very busy and continued to fill rapidly after we arrived. We found a clear spot on the lake edge and beside a tree that gave us a little bit of shelter. We managed to manoeuvre the fifth wheeler in there quite nicely without crowding out our neighbour.

It wasn’t until the next day that we recognised a motorhome that was parked three down from us, good friends in Hamilton have been building them for a few years. It was even a bigger surprise when the owners, Judy & John came knocking on our door. Judy and David have known each other for over 40 years, David was very good friends with Judy’s brothers and was like a another son to her parents. We had actually caught up with them & others from the family four or five years ago when they were in Tauranga but had seen little of them since. They recognised “Out There” from my photos that have been appearing in the NZMCA magazine. Small world! So of course that night (and the next) we had a great “happy hour” with Judy & John (who then moved their motorhome up behind us after the others had left)  and a few more couples from the surrounding vans.

We also had smoked salmon with our drinks courtesy of John & David, John had caught quite a few from the canals earlier in the month & David had the smoker to take care of the cooking. Very tasty too, can’t wait until we catch our first salmon……I’ll rephrase that……can’t wait until David catches his first salmon.

Lowburn Harbour was in fact very busy every night that we were there. The NZMCA National Rally is being held in Mosgiel over Easter and there is also a meeting of members at Warbirds over Wanaka, which is on over Easter too. A lot of members have travelled down from the North Island for Mosgiel and have been touring in the lead up to the rally. I came to the conclusion that Lowburn was a holding pen before everyone branched off to their Easter activities. We are heading to Warbirds, John & Judy to the National Rally.

Lake Dunstan was flat & very calm every day except the last. The brilliant autumn colours contrasted wonderfully against the dusty dry browns of the surrounding land making for some beautiful reflections in the still water..


  1. Another brilliant blog Shellie, I'm really starting to get the smell of motor homing now from your blogs and it's social aspect. Lots of good background info for when we're ready! What are you using to group some photos?
    Have just put up my final blog from my recent trial test.
    Cheers from Nelson, at the moment the rain has stopped! Ciao Jimu

    1. Thanks for your comments Jimu, you do have to watch the social side of life on the road. Most other people you meet are on holiday & "happy hour" is just a few weeks long for them. I don't think we'd manage happy hour every day for two years!

    2. PS- forgot to mention that I use Photoshop to group my photos, it's a long an involved process!

  2. Really love your photos :) Bright and cheerful colours. Do you mind revealing what camera and lens do you use most often to take them? Thanks!

    1. Thanks, glad you enjoy the photos. Here's my blog on my camera gear- I use various lens and I now have the Nikon D7100.


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