Wednesday 10 February 2021

Matangi Station Rally


We're not usually rally attendees but we do keep an eye out for ones that are held in unusual and interesting places.  Once we were accidental attendees to a rally at Nelson Lakes, that turned out to be a great weekend. We still laugh at how it happened and how awkward we felt. Others we have done have been attached to events such has the Arrowtown Autumn Festival (twice) and the Cavalcade (at Omakau) both were hosted by the NZMCA Clutha Valley Area. 

From the lookout above Alexandra 

We had a few days to fill in before we had to be in Southland so when I heard that Clutha Valley was holding a rally at Matangi Station, a large farm station near Alexandra, I thought it would be an interesting to attend and also a chance to catch up with Clutha Valley members we'd met on previous rallies. 

Matangi Station is located in Little Valley, just 10kms from Alexandra and yet it felt a whole world away once we climbed up the rocky hills behind the town and followed the narrow dusty road through a typical Central Otago landscape of rocky tors, golden tussocks, briar bushes, prickly matagouri...

...and those hardy Central Otago Merino sheep.

We had to squeeze past several vehicles coming out of the valley on the narrow road and we wondered what they thought when suddenly their quiet 'farm' road was inundated with large motorhomes travelling in on a dead end road. Hopefully they had been forewarned to expect us. 

An old stone wall followed the contours of the road for quite a distance and we later found out that this was a water canal that was built to supply Alexandra with water. It didn't last long because there wasn't enough supply, even though there are several springs in the valley.

It didn't take long before houses, farm buildings and the cultivated green paddocks of Little Valley opened up before us. There are three farm stations in the valley all owned by the extended Sanders family; we are heading to Matangi Station, a merino stud farm run by John & his wife Mary Liz and two of their sons & families. In fact we had been driving through the station farm since leaving Alexandra, Matangi Station reaches from the lookout behind Alex right through to Little Valley.

Motorhomes, caravans & fifth-wheelers trickled in throughout the afternoon and once registration forms were completed we set up camp in the woolshed paddock.

Soon the vans reach around the corner of the woolshed and off across the paddock, people were soon catching up with old friends and welcoming new members. There were certainly a lot of laughter at happy hour as everyone tried to cram in under the shade of the gazebos and out of the sun in the 30+ degree heat.

David flew the drone over the campers...

And later in the evening I drove back up the road to take some golden hour photos of the valley.

The merino rams weren't keen on having their photos taken and soon disappeared over the rise. Little did they know...

The next day after a morning tea catch up those with bikes got ready to cycle over one of the farm tracks.

As lovely as it looked I was secretly pleased that I wasn't going to be heading off in the mid-day heat, it was another scorcher of a day.

I stood at the gate and took their photos instead! What a happy bunch they were too.

If I had one disappointment it was the fact that there wasn't the opportunity to drive one of the farm tracks- for those that had 4WD vehicles- to an advantage point on the surrounding range. That would have certainly been a highlight for us. 

Instead I drove back up the road again looking for photo opportunities and as luck would have it, those camera shy rams were being rounded up by John...

...and mustered straight past me parked on the side of the road.

 This is just a small group of the farm's 700 merino stud rams.

And they were heading for the woolshed...

...where they were penned for the night and available for us to check out at close quarters after John gave a talk about the farm's history & operation during our BBQ dinner (not a lamb roast either).

Clutha Valley Area members always put on a great BBQ for attendees, we supplied our own salads, they supplied the meat. 

After dinner and a bit of lubrication, the bagpipes made an appearance...

And then someone, who shall remain nameless, decided to do a little highland fling to entertain the crowd. 

It was a relief of sorts when the sun finally disappeared behind the hills, although the heat & humidity lasted through the night; windows, vents & doors were left wide open on many vans. The peaceful sound of silence & the occasional sheep baa soon lulled us to sleep. 

Although I did step outside at some un-Godly hour to look at the night sky. It was stunning, millions of stars twinkling in the moonless night, reaching from one side of the valley to the other & beyond. I kicked myself in the morning that I didn't have enough energy to get the tripod & camera out to take a few photos. 

After one last morning tea gathering with a few prizes and awards presented... was a mass exodus out the gate and off up the hill.

Until there was just us left in the paddock.

Which was fortuitous... I spotted John about to take the rams back to their paddock. Merino rams are a favourite subject for me, I just love the expression on their faces, their curly horns and the spooky little face that appears on the end of their nose if you look long enough!

Once out the gate, they grabbed a quick bite to eat...

...and a drink from the nearby stream until a couple decided to head out the home paddock gate and the rest quickly followed along like, well, sheep.

Out the gate and into the opposite paddock before John spotted them and roared off on his bike to round them up...

 ...and head them back up the road. We followed slowly along behind.

At the end of the road, just before we dropped back down into Alexandra, we pulled to a stop so I could take a photo from the lookout and a Karearea/NZ Falcon flew straight past the rig at eye level and disappeared over the cliff edge. The perfect way to finish off a great weekend! 

Thankyou very much for your hospitality Clutha Valley members, it was a great rally and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Alexandra- click on the photo to enlarge