Friday, 8 May 2015

A Frog Pond & A Rock- Kumara

A last post from our time in Hokitika.

We took the long way home after one of our Blue Duck visits, carrying on up the road from the canal track and coming out on the main Arthurs Pass highway (SH73) then heading back to the coast through Kumara. There’s not much on the road other than native bush and scenic reserves before Kumara so when I spotted an old weather beaten sign I was intrigued to find out what was up the track.

This is Kumara’s ‘Frog Pond’ (as it was known to the locals), once the largest swimming pool complex in New Zealand, it measured 46 x 30 metres (50 x 33 yards) and had a 2 metre (6’6) deep end. It was built in 1933-34 by voluntary labour & unemployed relief workers during the Depression using the tailings(waste rock) from nearby gold workings for the walls. The pool had a clay bottom, two shallow bays for children and a 12 cubicle dressing shed. Water came from a reservoir south of Kumara through the same iron pipes that had supplied water to the gold sluicing claims. Looking at this isolated, quiet, overgrown patch of land, it's hard to visualize all the fun and action that would have gone on here, back then.

The pool was a popular meeting place for locals until it’s closure in the 1940s when it lost it’s water supply.

Just before the pools another track turned off the road near a hydro canal and pump station. After a short bumpy ride this even more weather beaten sign appeared. I had read about the Londonderry Rock but wasn’t sure what to expect. Going by the sign I’m not so sure they’re selling the experience too well.

From the carpark I can see a huge mountain of rocks through the overgrown bush; tailings from gold workings- they obviously didn’t use them all on the pool then.

A short rather lovely moss & bush clad track leads you through the rock tailings which are piled high on either side in numerous places.

Towards the end a large rock could be seen, it actually didn't look THAT big (the sun & shade in the same shot are playing havoc with my exposure)

But in fact it is quite large once we get up underneath it. This is the Londonderry Rock, a rock too large for the gold miners to break up or move. It is thought to weigh between 3-4000 tonnes.

Hopefully you can read the information panel and local folklore about the rock (click photo to see full size).

We didn’t stop in Kumara itself which was a shame as there are a number of old buildings and a lot of history in the little settlement, perhaps we’ll do that another day. Sometimes when we’ve been out all day we just get in the mode of getting home as quickly as we can- although I did manage to grab a shot of the newly painted Kumara Racecourse grandstand & buildings with some snow capped mountains in the background.

These photos are of a section of the old Arahura road & rail bridge which I took on our way to the ducks. This span has it’s own special reserve beside the new bridge which opened in 2009. The original one lane Howe Truss Span timber bridge was built in 1886-88. It’s a pity they didn’t think to keep a section of the old Hokitika River road & rail bridge before they blew it up! And I see that just the other day a new bridge has been OKed to replace the last remaining road & rail bridge on the Coast over the Taramakau River.

And that’s a good dose of snow on the Southern Alps that we woke up to one morning explaining why we were a little cold with all our blanket on. It didn’t last long though….the rain washed it away!


  1. Hi Shellie & David, The old Arahura one lane Bridge, was legendary for coming off on a motorbike, the approach was angled, onto a wooden deck with the raised steel railway tracks made for an easy dismount (especially in rainy conditions) and also caught quite a few if you decided to cross over at any time on the bridge, luckily for me it was only a very near thing! In frosty conditions ...dynamite!
    Cheers J

    1. Yes I can quite imagine if you didn't get your approach right you'd be heading for a bruising. I'm sure there are many stories out there that people reminisce about. Those were the days.......

  2. We've also visited Londonderry Rock. Although it was initially slightly underwhelming as an attraction the total experience on a nice sunny day was great. I liked the walk to the rock and being in among all those large boulder piles. I'm sorry we missed the swimming pool!

    1. Olwen I think the walk to the rock made the visit, but I was a little worried about all the rats and mice that might live in amongst the tailing rocks. The area didn't look like it was included on the pest eradication programme.


Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.