Sunday 12 March 2017

Poolburn Paradise


Surprise! We have internet albeit very slow to download and very painful to upload, it took me at over two hours to upload the photos for this blog post. But, who am I to complain, at least we have contact with the outside world, thanks once again to Netspeed. 

I can't altogether blame the slow internet for the lack of blog posts though, it's been that and the fact that we've been rather busy doing not much after arriving at Poolburn seven days ago. 

We left the racecourse at Omakau Sunday morning and headed off to Poolburn Dam 35kms away. This is our 4th visit to Poolburn but the first with the 5th-wheeler on the back. We were both looking forward to spending a bit of time at the dam, doing some fishing, some photographing and exploring along the Old Dunstan Road (track); joining a few more dots on the Rough Ridge plateau. 

It's 15kms of  dry clay road, with an unforgiving bedrock base, to Poolburn Dam from Moa Creek. It doesn't sound like much but it's tough going, it's a slow haul out of the Ida Valley and up into the unusual moonscape-like scenery of Rough Ridge, with it's rocky tors and dry tussock grasslands.

This time the dust was diabolical after a dry summer, and the corrugations terrible and poor David swore and cursed as we inched our way upwards and onwards.

If it had been any further he'd have turned around I'm sure, although once past the halfway mark....well, there's no point is there? I know, it doesn't look that bad does it? But believe me it's probably the worst road we've travelled with the 5th-wheeler on the back. I just thank God it was dry.

All was forgotten once we reached the dam and we'd found a good spot beside the water, where we could launch the inflatable easily enough. There are plenty of areas to park although not all are level and not all close to the water. 

We've had a steady stream of neighbours across the bay from us at the unofficial boat ramp...

...and a few crib owners about, but never more than half a dozen vehicles pass by each day.

I got very excited about sunset our first night, thinking that'll I'll see plenty of them over the week but in fact that one was probably the best of them all.

Every day bar two (today being the 2nd one) has been a stunner, perfect blue skies, warm sun but hardly any clouds to reflect the brilliant colours of a setting sun.

And sunrise the following morning has been the only decent one too.

And we've had our first frost of season, it was -2c outside and 4c inside. The diesel heater was given a good workout.

And of course a great day usually follows a frost, which makes the cold all worthwhile. David has been out fishing most days although he's sad (reluctant?) to report that the fish have headed to the depths and refused to be tempted by any number of lures or types of fishing.

Everyone else reports the same...

Although we did managed to catch some koura in the net for dinner...

While David's been fishing, I've had an awesome time exploring the rocky tors for skinks (I was hoping to find the very rare Giant &/or Otago Skinks- no luck yet). This one is still a good find though, a native McCanns skink...

I also found a number of rabbits, or to be more precise they found me. Scaring the bejesus out of me as they lept out of shady holes close by, high up in the rocky outcrops, they'd race like demented idiots down the rock faces doing death defying leaps and zig-zagging off into the sunset or 'hiding' behind rocks further down the slope.

I walked to the dam wall, exploring the tors along the way...

...chatting to these motorhomers...

...before heading up to the fenceline behind where the views from the top are magnificent. I even spotted David fishing on the far side of the dam (click photo to enlarge- you won't see David though, he's too small!)...

There's a crib hiding in amongst the rocks at the top, it's a long way from the water.  I have a feeling it might have been used when the LOTR was filmed here. Poolburn Dam was the setting for the Plains of Rohan. That link is of my blog when we visited Poolburn during winter and found the lake frozen (some awesome photos if I must say so myself!)...

The reason I came up the back way to the crib was because of a flock of merino sheep that were resting below the crib. I crept over the top and onto a rock to look down on them. They are so skittish, they usually take off as soon as they catch a sight of you. 

A couple spotted me straight away, but the game was up when David called me up on the walkie-talkie right at the crucial moment. His voice boomed out into the stillness from my backpack! Game over and they headed for the hills (or rocks as the case maybe). It wouldn't have been so bad if he was calling to report a catch, but no he was just checking in.

The greatest excitement of them all though, was a sighting of two New Zealand Falcons/Karearea; an adult and it's fledgling. They flew through our camp at head height, the juvenile chasing its parent and calling patently for some attention. The next day I saw the juvenile fly onto the rocks behind us. 

I grabbed my camera, pulled on my gumboots, scaled the fence and spent the next hour or so in the company of one amazing bird. He wasn't in the least bit fazed with my presence, he flew in low over my head, swooping from one rock to the next, changing direction and following me when I disappeared out of sight, diving down into the tussock, catching and eating lizards, perching on a rocky point scanning the countryside for many minutes while I stood below him. It was an amazing encounter and a great privilege to experience. 

 There certainly is gold at the end of the Poolburn's rainbow.


  1. Bloody good photo's.....even tho I do say myself!
    Jimu at Raumati South Beach.

  2. You've really outdone yourself this time with the photos Shellie. The sunset shot is gorgeous and lucky you getting to spend so much time with the falcon!
    Poolburn Dam is on my must-visit, hopefully sometime later this year -I'd prefer a winter visit anyway :)

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks but you know you can't take bad photos at a place like Poolburn! :) The falcon came back to say goodbye as we were pulling out so I got to take a few more shots. And those could be famous last words- visiting in winter! Very cold and very frozen but I guess you'd be used to that.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them as soon as possible, Shellie