Friday 21 April 2017

Ettrick Farm Stay- Central Otago

Catch-up- and I'm getting further behind because suddenly we're with family again and busy, busy! 

It's not every day a mob of sheep runs past your rig while you're sitting on the step having a cup of coffee...

And it's not everyday a pack of farm dogs sit obediently nearby while their master has a cuppa with you either. Well, six of the seven dogs sit obediently, the seventh, that little cutie with the big feet, front left, is still learning the ropes. 

Jack, the huntaway pup wanders off wondering where his human Dad has disappeared to (his real Dad is the dog he's watching on the right). Jack checks out the yards, chews on a few sticks and comes over to me for lots of pats. Although when he sticks his head under one of his mates as they lift their leg, he's no longer welcome and he can't understand why. He looks at me a little perplexed as I shoo him away as yellow liquid drops off his lovely long eyelashes and his big roman nose.

We've stopped at another NZMCA POP #8872 (park over property) but not just any POP, this POP is hosted by our friends Prue & Harry. It's on their home farm at Ettrick, a small settlement just east of Roxburgh, and known as a great apple growing area. 

There's Jack at the back, not following instructions again!
In fact there's a huge apple orchard belonging to a neighbour behind the shelterbelt.  Later in our stay Prue drives me over to the orchard and we whizz through a maze of apple trees, bumping along the rows in her little 4WD, dodging bins and pickers and stopping to pick a few different varieties of apples along the way. I come home with a huge bag of apples, so many I have to give a few away later in the week.

Prue and Harry are very active NZMCA and local area Clutha Valley members, it's how we met them. They were hosting the first Warbirds Over Wanaka show we went to (and probably the second but we stayed down below on another farm for that one), then they hosted both the Arrowtown Autumn Festivals we've attended and also the Omakau Cavalcade just the other week. It was Pru who saw me with my camera at the first autumn festival and asked if I'd like a helicopter ride to take photos of the rally. 

What a wonderful place to spend a few days on our way to Queenstown. It was lovely to just stop and relax for a time, catch up with Prue & Harry, share a happy hour or three and more than a few laughs.Prue & Harrys' son now runs their large family farm out the back of Ettrick, up on the range behind, near Moa Flat but Harry is still very active in helping out there and running his home farm here.

If I had been ride fit I could have gone with Harry to help with the mustering that they were doing at the Run, which is even further back on the range (and actually not that far from Piano Flat as the crow flies over the mountains). Oh how I would have loved to have gone for a ride, I might not have been able to walk for a week, but it would have been so worth the discomfort.

This is Bo as in Mr Bojangles, he looks a little sad because his Mum went to golf and left him on his own. He wandered down to say hello and made himself at home on our mat. I took him back to the garden after an hour or so thinking he might not know the way (yeah right). But the next time I looked out he was back on the mat. As soon as he heard Prue's car coming down the drive later in the day he perked up and did a little dance on our mat until she spotted him. 

I was thrilled to find a black NZ Fantail/Piwakawaka flitting about catching sandflies that were gathering around the outside of the van. This is a black morph fantail and they are quite rare making up only about 5% of the total fantail population, most fantails are pied.  Black fantails are usually only found in the South Island. 

I left David pottering about the van while I went on my own little tiki-tour over the hill to Moa Flat one day. I love the things you find along the road when you're in no hurry. I stopped to take a landscape shot over some rolling hill country when I had that strange feeling of being watched.

It didn't take me long to spot this fellow in the grass by a gate. As soon I made eye contact with him he high-tailed it out of there. With no houses in sight for miles, I'm sure he was a wild cat, although he was fluffier than most we've seen on the road.

A little further on I stopped to talk to some horses...

...including this cute little foal who wasn't too sure about me leaning over the fence...

...she just wanted to get on with dinner.

Moa Flat is more a place name for an area than a settlement, there are mainly farming families nearby but they are obviously very proud of their place in the world.  I spied this Moa sculpture and Moa sized egg beside the road. For my overseas readers, Moa are an endemic extinct NZ Bird and were once the tallest bird in the world, standing 4 metres high. Prue told me later that the locals often dress the sculpture in relevant themes; Christmas, Guy Fawkes, Easter, even their rugby team colours when there's a match on.

I carried on south towards Heriot, leaving the high country farms behind and dropping down into a beautiful lush green valley, stopping to take this pano as it opened up before me (click photo to enlarge). That's the Blue Mountains along the back of the valley and towards the right hand end is the small West Otago township of Tapanui. 

State Highway 90 runs right through the valley joining Southland to Otago, it's the usual route we take to Central Otago from Winton when we go via Gore, exiting at Raes Junction. Now that I know this road is sealed all the way to Ettrick, it'll be a handy short cut with the 5th-wheeler on the back.

Heriot is as I imagined it, a one horse town a little worse for wear. When I mentioned to Prue that I was heading to Heriot (who even knew there was a Heriot in NZ) she did look at me like 'Really?'

But I was happy, I'd done some exploring, added another couple of churches to my collection...

Heriot Community Church
and captured a few more old buildings for Heritage New Zealand.

Afterwards I headed home, back over the same route, stopping to take this photo just before dropping back into Ettrick. The range across the Clutha River valley at the back is the same one we crossed on our way to Lake Onslow a few weeks ago.


  1. I went to Roxburgh via Moa Flat accidentally on a beautiful misty day. There was no traffic at all and I didn't stop to take a photo of the Moa. Silly me!

    1. You struck gold then, it's such a lovely road to travel and cuts off that whole corner :)


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