Friday 16 May 2014

Only a Face a Mother Could Love

Meet Horace & Horatio, two very friendly & comical looking 12 year old kunekune pigs who live in a paddock beside our next camp site in Clyde, Central Otago. The mornings were cold & dreary for our stay & these two mirrored their human neighbours; not surfacing from their warm & cosy hut until very late in the morning. And then only to look for food and a scratch …... hmmm…...

Kunekune in Maori means “fat & round” and these two certainly live up to that description. Kunekune are very sociable, placid pigs and love close human contact. They are intelligent and affectionate and are a unique New Zealand breed of pig. Their characteristic shape is short-legged, short snouted with high fat which gives them their rotund look. Although these two looked like they had raided the cookie jar a few too many times. Kunekune also have neck “tassels”, a small tassel of skin that hangs off both sides of the jaw. These two had them but they were hidden in amongst the bristles & folds of fat.

In early times Kunekune pigs had a close association with Maori, they tended not to roam & were valued for their meat & fat, the fat being used for preserving food. The breed was “rediscovered” in the late 1970s when there was estimated to only be 50 purebred kunekunes left in NZ. Since then the numbers have built up into the thousands, many of them kept as pets which suits their friendly nature & small statue.

Every day Horace & Horatio with their friend Lambie, a Whiltshire Pole sheep (they shed their wool), went walkabout from their yard, across the ground where we were parked and over to another yard behind a shelterbelt where they spent the day close to an orchard accommodation block and the workers who lived there. And more importantly near the cook who no doubt supplies titbits throughout the day. As soon as the gate was opened they were off, just one thing on their mind; and if there happened to be a fifth-wheeler parked across their route, no matter, they walked right on through, over the mat and through the gap between the van & ute much to David’s consternation!

Even when the “cook” stopped to talk to us they carried on, disappearing through the trees well ahead of her. And in the evenings back they came at a full trot ahead, this time because they knew she had their dinner with her. The lamb just followed the cook wherever she went, even down to the river for her daily walk, back & forward the motley procession paraded twice a day.

We had arrived at the CAP(costs apply parking) after leaving Lowburn on a wet, cold & dreary day. CAPS are properties that allow members of the NZMCA to stay overnight or for a few days at minimal cost (this one cost us $5 a night) and along with POPs (park over properties-no fee), there are hundreds located around NZ. They offer a secure & safe site to stay, often with extras like water, internet & laundry etc. We’ve found some great places to stay in our travels and always look forward to our next CAP/POP although often with a little trepidation as “you never know what you’re gonna get”

On our way through to the CAP site we stopped at the top of the Clyde Dam, the largest gravity dam in New Zealand.

The Clutha River was dammed just above Clyde and this section now forms a very long arm of Lake Dunstan. After much controversy the dam was completed and in 1992 the fill began. The gorge that was once “wall-to-wall” with people during the gold rush and more recently lined with orchards & farms, houses & pubs, roads, bridges & train tracks is now flooded with very little to remind people of its past.

Unfortunately it rained and the cloud hung low on both the days we stayed in Clyde so I was unable to  get any decent photos of this historic town. The last of the autumn colour was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal couple of days.

Looking back up the Clutha to the dam wall from the Clyde Bridge-

Another red bridge over the Clutha, the steel arched Clyde Bridge was built in 1934 after the orginal wooden structure was swept away in 1878, just two years after it was completed. Only the cable & stone piers were left, the cable piers were removed but this bridge rests on the original stone piers.

Below is a small selection of the historic buildings dotted about the town of Clyde. We stopped in town for lunch, which we had in a café that has taken over the tiny former BNZ building.

Top left- Post Office 1865, the original Post Office was a calico tent, then corrugated  iron & wood before being replaced with this building in 1865.
Top right- Dunstan Times Building 1866, Clyde was the brithplace of the Goldfields Press with its first publication in 1862.

Bottom left- Henry Wong Gye’s house circa 1870s; married an English woman & had 14 children. Henry was fluent in English & a special constable with responsibility for the Chinese miners.
Bottom right-Tyrell’s House, a very old stone house, thought to be the earliest one built in the town. Mr Tyrell, a clerk of the court, built it for his family in the 1860s.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t very conducive to doing much exploring of the Clyde & Alexandra area but no doubt we will be back in the area again during our travels and next time we will stay a little longer and venture further afield. We did take a drive down to Alexandra where we crossed another bridge over the mighty Clutha, this time the bridge is painted a beautiful powder blue. I'm now collecting Clutha River bridges!

The remnants of the old Alexandra suspension Bridge stand beside the new, I doubt whether any modern day vehicles would fit through the arches if it was still in use. Just below the bridge one of Clutha’s tributary rivers joins the flow and after the rain it is a dirty brown, here the weather has yet to affect the beautiful aqua colour.

We drive east a little way to check out Butchers Dam which is a free camping area where we thought we might  stop for a night or two. The area is beautiful, surrounded by wonderful schist rock formations and the golden colours of willows, reeds and grasses. It’s a little exposed to the main road traffic and also there is a lot of mud around so we think we’ll give it a miss this trip. There’s good trout fishing to be had in the dam and also a few DOC walks so I’m sure the place will look a lot more welcoming next time we pass through.

The next day when we passed I stopped to take this photo of a motorhome parked up below the road, it had dried out a little but the tracks in were still slippery & wet and we’d decided to head on to Pinders Pond just south of Roxburgh.


  1. Definitely not a pig of a blog, you must write down a lot of you info as you go, any way CAPS off to you, I'm off to POP downstairs to work....

    1. Haha, very good Jimu! I collect brochures (I have way too many) these I use to plan the trips & for reference afterwards. Also Mr Google is my new best friend :) Although with limited data he has had to take a back seat more often than not. It helps too that I am a need to know person, I need to know everything about whatever it is we're looking at.


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