Sunday, 19 March 2017

Cavalcade 2017 - Omakau, Part 2; The Arrival

Continued on from Part 1

Saturday dawned warm and sunny and after looking like not much was happening around the racecourse on Friday, suddenly the place was a hive of activity as stallholders set up their stands under the shade of the trees behind the grandstand, the huge marquees were filled with tables, chairs, a bucking bronco and a stage for the band, trays and trays of food and grates of bottles and glasses were carted in, ready for the Hoedown festivities later in the evening.  
The Grand Parade was due to start at 12pm and I made my way to the grandstand to find myself a good position to take photos. I passed this group of walkers in period costume posing for photos. These walkers were part of a group that started their trail below Lindis Pass and walked through Morven Hills Station and the Dunstan Range.

Many of the motorhomers set themselves up in their comfy chairs for a good view alongside the track, cool drinks not too far away.

I found myself a good position in the grandstand as the cavalcade made their way up the road outside and gathered on the far side of the racecourse.

The three walking trail groups came first for obvious reasons; who wants to be dodging horse poo on the home straight! This group of hardy hikers left from Glenfoyle Station near Luggate and made their way over a number of ranges and passes to Omakau, carrying all their gear with them. 

Other walking trails carried 'only' their day packs; their food, clothing & sleeping gear was transported from site to site each day. Many of the overnight stops for the trails were in or beside the woolsheds of high-country stations.

The Garibaldi Miners Trail left Wedderburn and headed down the White Sow Valley and along Rough Ridge overlooking the Ida Valley.

After the walkers came the riding trails.

Dansys Pass to Omakau-

Styx & Matakanui-

Overland to Omakau- Mt Dasher; this was the trail we'd met on the road near St Bathans the day before. 

Riders gathered on the sand track once they'd paraded past the grandstand.

Two ways of life, or the old and the new.

Some motorhomers had a better view of the proceedings than others-

Lake Ohau to Omakau-

Front & tail end Charlies led and followed the trails when they passed along public roads.

Next came the light wagons and riders- Kurow to Omakau

Followed by the heavy wagons, the ones I'd seen camped at the bottom of Thomsons Gorge Track.

The wagons waited on the grass track while speeches and presentations took place, what a wonderful spectacle with so many horses and riders gathered, and of course the wagons, carts and buggies from a bygone era.

The Otira Hotel (Arthurs Pass) Stage Coach would have to have been a favourite. This was the first year it had participated in the cavalcade, hopefully it won't be the last. 

It would have been a major undertaking and a great expense to transport the coach and Clydesdales to Central Otago, and then to look after both the wagon & horses each day.

The Mayor of Central Otago, Tim Cadogan, welcomed everyone and presentations were made to riders that had ridden in every one of the 25 Cavalcades...

And then a special mention was made and flowers were given to Fleur Sullivan, a lady we've met on our travels when we stopped at Moeraki. This is Fleur of  'Fleurs Place' fame, the famous seafood cafe & restaurant near Moeraki Boulders. Before 'Fleurs Place', Fleur established the award winning Olivers Restaurant & Lodge in Clyde, Central Otago.

This extraordinary lady has another string to her bow, she is responsible for the Cavalcade. In 1991 she had an idea to encourage people to travel further off the main tourist route and see 'the real New Zealand'. She thought it was sad that Otago's small country towns, with their orchards, beautiful old buildings and gold-mining history were in decline and in danger of disappearing. She thought it would be good to draw people into the area to show off some of the unique history by retracing the steps of the pioneering gold miners, and so the Cavalcade was born. 

The Cavalcade has not only been great for the horse industry and Otago in general, its also given local groups such as schools, scouts and Lions a great outlet for fundraising as many of these groups cater each day for the trails and look after the food at the Hoedown and dinner. Many small country schools benefit when trails pass by, the kids come out to greet them and collect donations.

The wagon teamsters patiently stood with their horses as the speeches continued...

By now I'd decided to move down to the fence line and get some close up shots as they waited. It was a surprise when I heard my name being called from the back of this covered wagon. 

Two motorhomers had managed to catch a ride in the parade, lucky (and cheeky) ladies!

Once the formalities were over it was time to head for the shade; first came the light wagons and a few riders, their horses kicking up dust as they made their way off the track.

It was such a hot day by now, this couple had the right idea.

This one's a dinky little buggy with ponies to match, they'd have covered twice the distance with their short legs and small buggy wheels.

And elegant pony trap...

And a sturdy little number with good suspension and comfy seats to match...

The horses and ponies came in all colours...

...and sizes...

Appaloosas always stand out in a crowd, these two were in the trail we'd seen on the road yesterday.

Once the sand track was clear, the heavy wagons made their way off the track.

And although I love the hugely powerful, dependable & friendly Clydesdales I think these were the horses I loved the best; a beautiful team of matching chestnuts with sleek coats, long sweeping manes and white blazes, they effortlessly worked as a team pulling the wagon along. 

As the day drew to a close, I wandered across the lucerne stubble to take a shot of the motorhomes as the sun dropped to the horizon. 

I had a great time watching but I think I'd have preferred to be 'Out There' on the range participating in the Cavalcade. Who knows, it's been a long time between horses but the seed has been sewn so maybe one day... 

If you'd like to see more photos from the Cavalcade, and there are plenty, here's the link to my Flickr Cavalcade Album.


  1. Thank you Shellie I really loved this blog it looks to be a huge event in Omakau and would have loved to have been there

    1. Thanks zephyr, glad you enjoyed it. As you've probably seen by the amount of photos, I enjoyed it too! :)


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