Thursday, 23 March 2017

Return to Ranfurly


I have several posts from Lake Onslow & now Poolburn Dam that I want to do but they'll have to wait until I have a bit more time up my sleeve- once again I took far too many photos. It's hard not to when you're surrounded by such beautiful scenery. So here's a few more photos from Poolburn-


Early morning mist-

I think I extolled the virtues of  Poolburn on a couple of travel forums and Facebook pages a little too much, suddenly we had motorhomes galore....well 'galore' for a remote place like Poolburn.


I was thrilled once again to have the NZ Falcon/Karearea fly in and land on a nearby rock just as we were hitching up to pull out. It was like he'd come to say good-bye.

Goodbye Poolburn Paradise, thanks for the memories....just a pity the fish weren't biting.

The road wasn't so bad on the way down, recent rain had settled the dust and it was mostly downhill and without the corrugations. This is towards the bottom of the road, overlooking the Ida Valley.

We headed up the Ida valley, stopping at the 'famous in NZ' Idaburn Dam for another photo, this time with the dam full of water. We've passed the dam 3 times in the last couple of years. The dam appears in a number of TV ads and is often shown when there’s a hoar frost in the Maniototo. 

This is where the 'Brass Monkey' Motorcycle Rally is held in the middle of winter and it’s also the home of the Roaring Game, that ancient Scottish sport of curling and is famous for the Bonspiel, the grand tournament which occurs when (and only when) the ice reaches 14cm thickness. That’s when the Ice Masters put out the call to curlers nationwide to come and play within 48hrs (click on the photo to enlarge)

 Here it is empty last April- 

And frozen the previous August!

Our next stop was at the relatively new, very popular Ranfurly NZMCA Park, right in the middle of the small township and nice and handy to the Otago Rail Trail. The last time we stayed in Ranfurly, the park wasn't open and it was the middle of winter. We stayed next door at the holiday park and had a great time especially when it snowed and the temperature dropped to -12c. We also had just about the whole of the Maniototo to ourselves.

The cloud formations and sunsets each night at Ranfurly were magnificent, these were the sunsets I was looking for at Poolburn; instead of rocky tors I had to make do with motorhomes as subjects.

Because we've seen most of the Maniototo there was no urgency to get out and explore. After a couple of days and with the weather looking great, we decided to re-visit Naseby. Once again the last time we were there, snow had fallen and the township was picture perfect.

There were a couple of dams in the Naseby Recreation Forest that we couldn't visit last time because the road in was knee deep in snow and closed. Today Coalpit Dam was as calm as a millpond with some beautiful reflections. In the winter the lake is used for ice skating.

The nearby playground has seen better days, the forest is a working forest and pine trees have taken over the area. But the toilets must have been the cleanest we've found in a long while. Somebody obviously takes pride in their work (most probably voluntary as well) 

Hoffmans Dam is just above Coalpit and both are fed from the Mt Ida water race, a 108km long water race constructed in 1876 and used for sluicing during the gold mining days. Now walking and mountain bike and motorcycle tracks weave through the forest and around the dams.

There was another place I wanted to revisit, a very small curling dam we found in the forest, up behind the town. Overgrown and in need of some tender loving care it certainly looked different... our last visit!

At a bit of a loose end after a quick visit to Naseby we thought we'd drive the 20kms to Danseys Pass Coach Inn and have lunch at the old hotel at the bottom of the Pass. It doesn't look like it here, but it was actually quite busy due to it being Otago Anniversary weekend.

While we ate lunch we also had a discussion about whether to complete the Pass crossing, we came up during winter and could only reach the summit before the ice and snow got the better of us. We were thinking maybe we could do a quick trip across and back that afternoon but once we'd had lunch and relaxed in the warm sunshine, we didn't quite feel like bouncing about over a rocky pass- there & back- for the next couple of hours. So we headed for home.

Kyeburn Diggings
We see dozens of Australian Harrier Hawks/Kahu on our travels, soaring above us, swooping across paddocks, attached to road kill or sitting on fence posts. Sadly we've even come across a few sick or hurt ones, sitting stunned on the side of the road.

But for all the hawks we've seen I've yet to get some decent flight shots of them; hawks are notoriously shy and will fly as soon as they see anything out of the ordinary. We often drive past them and if they stay on the post, we'll turn around and David will crawl back past with me all set to click off a few shots out the window before they fly. I nearly got this guy but he turned left and swooped down out of sight.

We stopped at Keyburn Diggings where we'd seen a  NZ Falcon on our previous visit, just in case we spotted it again. There was no falcon this time but I took a photo looking across to the Kakanui Mountains...'s a repeat of one I took last time, one that is one of my favourite photos. We've both decided we prefer the Maniototo in the winter.


  1. I prefer to see this area with snow too. Though we only saw the icing covering the upper half of Hawkdun and Kakanui in early spring, I was haunted and wish to come back one day to see the winter snow here. Is mid August a good time to visit? Hard to imagine how cold is -12C. We only have a taste of -4C in Ranfury :).

    1. Those might be famous last words Offstone, August would be a good time to visit, it'll certainly be the middle of winter that's for sure. Very. very cold but very pretty if it snows (of course that's not guaranteed either). Hope your Northland trip went well and you left before the floods! NZ's weather has been dreadful this past summer.


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