Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Carricktown- The Shiny Finally Gets Through; Part 2


Carried on from Part 1

We leave the Young Australian waterwheel behind, fording the water race and once again steadily climbing up to the next ridge. Clutha Valley comes back into view.

I forgot to put the panos up in the first part of the blog so I'll drop them in here for you (click on the photo to enlarge)

And here's one as we leave the waterwheel, you can see it just about centre in the photo; a light grey dot.

We finally reach the top of the ridge where the Spaniards are thick on the ground and rocky tors dot the landscape.

The track levels out and heads east across the top of the ridge, there are now numerous small bogs to cross as the water pools in the hollows. We're now around 1200 metres above sea level and in the winter this area would often be deep in snow. We suddenly see life across the divide and spot two vehicles making their way cautiously towards us (remember to click to enlarge).

We find an area to pull off the road and wait for them to come through. A good time to take some more photos! This is looking west and under those clouds are The Remarkables; the backside of the Remarkables, we're not that far from Queenstown. Did you spot the merinos? 

I climb back in the cab and we wait patiently for them to appear over the rise in front of us, they disappeared out of sight and took such a long time to re-appear, we think they must have been waiting for us as well. Eventually they come into sight, give us a wave as they pass and carry on across the track. 

Discussing the track later, we think that perhaps we should have done it in this direction too, descended the range, instead of climbing it. The view over Clutha Valley would have opened up in front of us as we headed down the range, I wouldn't have had to get out as much to take photos and David would have seen more of it too. But then again, David likes going up a track rather than descending it.

We move off again, spotting a blue figure against the skyline ahead of us; the German runner who passed us back at Carricktown. We'd actually caught sight of a blue dot moving through the landscape several times but we're now catching him up. Maybe he stopped to talk to the guys in their vehicles and that's what held them up.

We pass carefully through one last bog...

...and head up to Watts Rock, the highest point on the Carrick Range at 1322m.

I get the fright of my life when I climb up to the trig beacon and find the German guy resting against one of the rocks taking in the view back along the track we've both just crossed. I wondered where he'd gone.

He tells me he's going to return by the same route, all 14kms of it. I tell him he can do a loop, carry on along the ridge to Duffers Saddle and then down the Nevis Valley road back to Bannockburn. He's worried he'll get lost but I assure him there's only one way out of the valley as long as he turns left at the end of this track and we won't be far behind him anyway.

He heads back to the track just as a guy on a trail bike comes roaring up behind the ute. Talk about Piccadilly Station! The bike rider stops for a chinwag with David. David offers the runner some water; he's not carrying a thing and is dressed in T-shirt and light running shorts, and like the girls earlier, it's not the ideal attire for a run in the mountains where the weather can change at a moments notice- lucky it is reasonably mild today.

The bike guy tells David he's worried about the two girls though, he passed them at the wheel (9kms from the bottom of the range) and told them they'd have to head back soon as the weather was due to close in late afternoon, you can see the cloud approaching in this pano.

From my vantage point atop the rock I watch as a vehicle passes along the Nevis Valley Road heading towards Cromwell and then I spot the runner taking a short cut across to the Nevis Road too. Off to the south I can see the Nevis Road running south through the valley. 

We carry on and our track drops down to join the Nevis Road just north of Duffers Saddle- travel dots finally joined! We've driven the Nevis Road a couple of times in the past and both times I was unaware of where the Carricktown track left the road. That's because there are no signs although that looks to be about to change, there's a DOC info shelter going up beside the cattlestop at the entrance to the track, which is good because there are several tracks in various states heading off in all directions. 

We stop at the Saddle for a cup of tea and another Ranger pulls in beside us, the driver pouring himself a coffee and joining David to compare notes.

We watch as dozens of vehicles pass us heading in both directions- people out for a Sunday drive over the highest public road in New Zealand! The road into and along the valley floor is fine for regular vehicles in fine weather, it's the Nevis through the gorge at the end of the valley and beyond that drivers need to be cautious of.

Afterwards we search around the nearby rocks looking for lizards (no, not Giant's this time, we're out of their range) but only find a couple of fast moving small ones and two NZ Shorthorn grasshoppers, camouflaged beautifully against their surroundings, although the green one leapt out of the grass ahead of me and into some not so well coloured plants.

It's time to head for home and this time we can see the valley ahead of us, although it's getting very hazy and the shadow of the Pisa Range covers part of the lake.

We pass by and over the Carrick Water Race a couple of times on the way down the range. It's still an important asset for the local community with an intricate network of side canals that leave the race on its downward journey, irrigating the farmland and orchards far below.  I guess the water race will also come under scrutiny when Central Otago's controversial new water allocation permits are needed to be negotiated before 2021.

We now heading down Long Gully...

...and through 'Dead Horse Pinch', where today vehicles make the slow climb to the top of the range.
In the early days many horses didn't make it up the steep incline while pulling wagon loads of mining dredges and material into the Nevis Valley. On their way back out of the valley the wagons dragged 'brake-stones', massive stone slabs behind them to check their descent. These slabs were later used to build the woolshed at the bottom of the road. 

Unfortunately the map won't let me draw the line over our route taken, it obviously doesn't like to be taken off road so I've named all the places and if you zoom in you'll be able to pick up the track(see purple & blue markers).


  1. Hi Me and my Partner have just decided there is more to life than the daily grindof going to work coming home going to sleep and getting up again! All in the name of psying the mortgage to buy your dream home. So we are going to do the same and join the many living life on the road so we see more of this beautiful country.
    After going to the covi show and looking at many options we have now decided on a Rockwood and a Rangerto tow it. Having a homely home from home and space to move around in is a must. What I would like to know is how are you fairing in the winter is the 5th wheeler warm in winter? Do you have double or single glazed windows? Are you really comfortable. Your blog is great and the more i read cannot wait to be on the road and free.

    Gary & Christine

    1. Hi Gary & Christine, welcome to life on the road (or soon to be). You'll love your new lifestyle and especially the rig you've chosen. It's just like living in a small apartment with a huge backyard! It's also great having a separate vehicle (and a Ranger at that!) to go touring in. Our windows are just single glazed, we have 2x 2kw Eberspacher diesel heaters (one in lounge, one in bedroom) which we've found are more than enough for winter in the deep south. Most of the time we only run one of them but enjoy having the extra one when we don't want direct heat blowing out in the room we're in or when we need both on when it gets to -12c as it did in Ranfurly one winter. We're very happy with our set-up.

  2. More really useful info for me. I was planning to drive up to Duffer's Saddle after driving over to Bannockburn on the Hawksburn Road, I didn't realise the Carricktown Track was derivable, but will now go that way and make it a loop with the Nevis Road. Thanks!

    1. Also, roughly how long might that loop take? (assuming we don't pull over to wait for others :) )


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