Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Autumn at Lowburn, Central Otago


With Easter weekend fast approaching and not needing to be in Queenstown until Easter Monday, we decided to have a few days at Lowburn near Cromwell (3 day limit) and then shift to nearby Rotary Glen for the long weekend. We were expecting Lowburn to be busy but were pleasantly surprised to find very few RVs there.

That might have had something to do with the weather forecast- Cyclone Debbie was due to blast into New Zealand although it wasn't likely to be any more than strong winds this far south. We never got the winds, but we certainly had a torrential downpour overnight. The mat got a free wash and the local ducks spent an age under the van finding tasty morsels before the puddle disappeared a couple of hours later.

The low cloud and grey dismal sky sat low over the lake and surrounding range for the next couple of days.

Which made for some interesting sunsets in the evening.

By the time the sun came out again it was time for us to move onto the NZMCA park at Rotary Glen. It's closer to Cromwell and beside one of the many boat ramps that access Lake Dunstan. You can see the gate into the park in the centre behind the car park.

We had to do the obligatory autumn photo in front of the poplars before parking up (just in case it was raining when we left later in the weekend.

Rotary Glen is a lovely park....when the weather's good. We've been here in the depths of winter when ground is frozen solid for weeks on end by the perma-frost and fog settles in low and doesn't lift above the trees for days on end. And if it rains, oh the mud! 

You also have to dodge the rabbit poo, there's a whole colony living in the slopes that surround the edge of the park, they come down to play over night and leave big piles of poo everywhere. If you watch quietly from inside your van during the day you can see the whole slope moving back and forward as they run about chasing each other. I'm sure it must drive any dogs sitting inside the vans crazy. There's a rabbit proof fence at the top of the park but they've burrowed under it and bounce off along the ridge heading for the suburbs....and no doubt some tasty greens.

It's still a great place to spend a few days away from the maddening crowds, and especially over Easter weekend.

There's a maximum of of 10 vans allowed (council regulations) so there's plenty of space and with park like grounds, there's no need to conform to the usual parking etiquette of regimentally lining up along the fences with a 3 metre gap between vans.

Rotary Glen was a good move. I passed Lowburn later in the weekend and it was packed solid. I think there was a rally of some sort happening there along with plenty of  single vans parked up too.

The weather was a bit unstable but the rain held off which was great for all those that had put off their holiday travel for a day or two due to the forecast.

I headed off to check out the autumn colours around Cromwell. This is our third autumn in Central Otago and I'd have to say the least colourful. I don't know whether it's to do with an overall climate change or it's just because the days haven't been so cold this month. Some trees had already lost their leaves when they had them other years and other hadn't even started to turn.

Though these poplars and willows on the edge of the lake near the Park, were certainly colourful enough.

I drove out to The Inlet at Bannockburn where I knew I'd got some fantastic shots a couple of years ago. I forgot though, being the Easter break there were a number of skiers and jet boats churning up the usually calm and reflective waters.

And without the reflective blue sky the Kawarau River wasn't the beautiful aqua colour I've seen before either.

Bannockburn Bridge
 And here you'll see how different the season is, this is looking across the river to the Bannockburn vineyards. Some lovely yellows on the poplars at the river's edge and on the foreground willows again...

...but this is a similar view in 2014. The poplars up the top have already lost all their leaves this year. The most surprising part is that the photos were taken just one day apart in different years. And the old one has a blue sky, which turns the river a much more inviting colour.

My next stop was at a 'secret' spot out the back of Bannockburn, I came across it while exploring a couple of years ago.

Luckily the colours were still quite intense there.

Hmmm....but still not quite the same as when the sun shines (this one was taken last year)...

On the way back to Cromwell I took the detour down to the Inlet foreshore and was happy to see these friendly guys making a beeline for me from way across the pond.

They were so cute and very forward, not afraid of me at all and very keen to check out what I had in my hands. "It's only a camera guys!" 

I managed to find a couple of rice crackers in the ute which I carefully crumbled above them while trying to take photos. I felt a bit mean teasing them like that, but then again bread is not good for them either, so it was best that I didn't have any. I felt a bit afraid for the ducks though, because I could easily pick them up for a cuddle with little protest, I hope they stay safe.

There were 8 ducks but one held back, you can see it in the background of the photo on the top right. She (I suspect it was a she and the rest were hes) stayed well away from us but followed along wherever we walked. Needless to say I got a little distracted chasing any more autumn colours and by the time I left, it was getting late and time to head for home. 


  1. Another fabulous blog with photos that make me super keen to head that way to explore... and take zillions of photos! Love the ducks and like you worry that their friendliness may cause them harm. I'd love to sit back in the rig and watch the rabbits bounding around the hillside (as would the dogs). Looks like a special area.

    1. Thanks Katrina, not long now and you'll be having your own adventures (and so will those dogs!)

  2. Looks great, a few friends and my self will be in the area June on the motorbikes going through McKenzie pass and the haka pass through to kurow, were kinda hoping the weather is going to be kind to us , Just love youre blogs on the area as the south island is truely one of the great wonders! Thanks Shellie

    1. Thanks Pete,glad you enjoy the blog. June will be a great time to visit the MacKenzie- cold, crisp, sunny days and no wind! As long as there's no snow to hold you up it'll be easy going. You could also do Meyers Pass from Kurow to Waimate and then back again. Keep an eye out for wallabies bounding across your path. Safe travels.

    2. ETA- *Back again* on the usual road to Kurow, a loop if you like.

  3. It's an area I would like to explore too!
    The autumn colours in the NorthIsland haven't been great either.

    1. Interesting to hear the colours haven't been the same up there either Carol, it must have something to do with the really unusual summer we've had too.


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