Richmond Diary



Winter Months

Posted by on Aug 10, 2019 in Richmond Diary | 0 comments

Winter Months

The Book Fair The once a year second hand book fair held at the Founders park is always interesting. Maybe it is more in anticipation as one never knows what you might find.  I usually head straight for the UK book tables to see if there are any books on ole England, especially of Cumberland history and such. Also of interest is British nature writings, not lists of their native animals but their feelings of the natural world and the open spaces in those early days. Here we have protests about land and colonisation but what they have been through is nothing compared to my ancestors. Many invasions, destruction, rape, slavery and pillage by foreigners, almost continual scrapping with other nearby clans, tribes, and kingdoms, not to mention famines and plagues! Every treaty or agreements broken. My native language gone. This is all well into the past and now is the present. It is good to know certainly but, maybe strangely by today’s ‘standards’, I have or feel no animosity to this past.   On Rabbit Is looking over Rough Is with Mt Arthur in the distance. Richmond Hills Walk Shirl & I lead our 50+ walking group for a month and our first walk was out in the Richmond Hills. We all met at the start of the Jimmy Lee Track, past the bird hide, over Cypress Road then turned off the main track into the Upper Jimmy Lee. This section is through all good native bush but the track is almost a route with some parts a little difficult for some. Upward to the Matai Ridge, a spot which is quite special. A large matai stands sentinel near the base of the ridge and I guess most of its offspring cover the ridge as smaller specimens. In fifty or sixty years time these younger matais will transform the ridge similar to walking through a cathedral of columns.  We had morning tea upon the on top of the ridge. After we continued on to Fowler Road and then went into the Top Jimmy Lee, through some pines to the top ridge and along to the fire lookout for lunch. A weka came along looking for a free food handout. It was quite tame or perhaps aggressive in this endeavour as one had to be careful with any food in the hand. It readily took any offered food from ones hand.  Any lunch for me, says the weka. A Rabbit Island Walk  The next Tuesday we walked around about half of the Western end of Rabbit Island. At first a short walk along the seaside beach, back onto the cycle trail, through some pines along one of the traplines then along the cycle trail again to the ferry landing for morning tea. After we followed the shoreline of the estuary between Rough Island, cutting back through the pines again to the cycle trail and back to the cars and in time to meet up with some older members of the group for a BBQ lunch and to sit in the warm winter’s sun for a couple of hours eating and talking.  Looking along the Mot Sandspit and the ‘huts’ built from driftwood. Motueka Town and Reserves Walk  After parking our cars in Motueka, we walked through Thorp Bush, Goodman Recreation Park to have morning...

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A Week at Picton

Posted by on Jul 4, 2019 in Richmond Diary | 0 comments

A Week at Picton

This was to be five days with our 50+ walking group, leaving home on a Monday morning for Havelock to meet up with the rest of the group. Just out of Havelock we turned off towards Picton on the Queen Charlotte Drive, stopping at Ngakuta Bay for morning tea. After that, most started to walk along the fairly new Link Walkway, heading towards Picton. Drivers of the cars then set off for Picton, parked the cars and then headed back along the pathway to meet up with the others at The Wedge arriving just five minutes late. We all then went down a short track to a World War 2 lookout and signal station. Not much remained, just some broken concrete foundations here and there. Seating arrangement on the Link Pathway. A good spot to have lunch with a view out down the sounds though.  We then headed back to the cars and Picton. This Link Pathway is fairly new with the idea of having a walking track from Picton to Havelock following or linking the different parts of the Marlborough Sounds, via some old bridle paths, and the Queen Charlotte Track. Each group walked about 11 km and then we were off to the Waikawa Bay Holiday Park to settle in for our stay.  Barnes Dam. Barnes Dam & then over the Tirohanga Track The next day was a walk up the Essons Valley track to the two dams that supplied water to Picton. Some of the group went to the Humphries dam while the rest went to the Barnes dam. The walk was through native bush following a pipeline with a good selection of native plant species. The Barnes dam itself looked to be leaning downhill but they said it was an optical illusion. It still looked to be sloping the wrong way to me. It was a pleasant walk even if one had to be stepping over the water main pipe all along the way to the dam. Once back at the cars we then walked up the nearby Tirohanga Track to the lookout for lunch with a good view looking down on Picton, the inter-islander ferry wharfs and the Picton Harbour in Queen Charlotte Sound. We watched one of the inter island ferries berthing too.  One of the ferries berthed: from the lookout, Tirohanga Track. The Wairau Lagoons  A good sunny day for the next walk around the Wairau Lagoons and estuary just south of Blenheim.  The rivers must have run directly out to the sea but over time, with waves building up sandbanks resulting in many lagoons, salt-marsh flats and swampy areas like it is today. No doubt the area has been changed by earthquakes and glacial activity over time too.  Looking over the saltmarsh, Wairau Lagoons. A great food garden at certain times of the year for birds although we didn’t see too many different species during our late autumn visit. There is a sewerage treatment plant with the usual settling, cleaning ponds nearby. There are walking tracks across and around the flats and we took the track that went directly to the wreck of the rusting hulk of the Waverley. Here we stopped for lunch after passing large flocks of finches, which seemed to be yellowhammers mostly, feeding on grass, sedge and rush seed-heads. Yellowhammers....

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A Week on Molesworth Station

Posted by on Jun 10, 2019 in Richmond Diary | 0 comments

A Week on Molesworth Station

The road on the Rainbow at Hell’s Gate. We travelled to Molesworth via the Rainbow Valley road and through Rainbow Station. There has been a recent change of ownership but it is still a toll road with a steep increase in the toll; now $40 per car, one way. The road was in the worst condition that I’ve seen it.  Very rough especially around the Hell’s Gate area. It’s a real pity this road isn’t an open public road and maintained to a good standard as it’s almost a direct route from Nelson to Christchurch. It is public land too but leased. We read about people wanting to make new roads through wilderness areas; (Heaphy Track and Milford etc) but what’s wrong with the Rainbow? Keep Out of the Rainbow! Molesworth: the largest station in New Zealand of about 180,787 ha, with the largest herd of cattle  too (10,000 head), owned by the public and run by the Department of Conservation. A road runs through the station, linking Hanmer and Blenheim which is open to the public during the summer period. It has a DoC camp ground at each end and the campgrounds are monitored by rangers to make sure people pay their camp fees, collecting rubbish, cleaning toilets and generally assisting campers and through traffic. I joined Karla in giving a hand at the Hanmer Springs end, at Acheron. The old Acheron Accommodation House. The last time we came, the bridge across the Clarence was closed as one of its approaches had been washed away, but it’s all okay now. Our ranger’s hut was nearby the old, partly restored Acheron Accommodation House and within the camping area. The ranger’s hut is quite small, has a shower, gas hob and frig, plus a couple of beds, sink, table and such. Pretty compact but not very well laid out. What it did have though was a wood burner!  The view from Mt Isobel looking down on Hanmer. The next day we headed back on the road to Hanmer Springs but stopped on the way to climb Mt Isobel of 1342m. The track is a bit rough and through scrub at the start but soon one comes out along an exposed ridge, gradually climbing up to the steeper parts.  Once on the main rocky ridge there are good views of the area around Hanmer Springs township. It was late Autumn so there was not much in the way of flowering alpine plants although I did spot a gentian in flower. Of concern are the number of wilding pines encroaching on the hills and flats in the area.  Spreading pest pines, Molesworth. Mt Isobel gentian. The first part of the week was fine weather with a trickle of campers staying a night plus many people driving through. We called into Hanmer Springs a couple of times  for a wander around the shops. It seems like a real tourist town now, losing its original charm but the hot springs are still there and are being expanded. Lots of holiday homes, more than the people who live and work there apparently.   Another day we drove back over Island Pass, all of 1347m, towards the Rainbow and to the Sedgemere Lakes & hut.  Lake Sedgemere. We walked past Lake Sedgemere and over to Fish...

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Wanderings on the Way Home

Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Richmond Diary | 1 comment

Wanderings on the Way Home

Wanaka What a strange place it is now from when I first wandered by. At least it does have a shopping area. Retrograde ‘progress’ with all the expanding houses scattered right out to Hawea Flat. From my observations many small towns have simply burst their boundaries with no forward planning at all. With all the talk of conserving the world, why are there so many so called life style blocks? It seems to me to be an extravagant waste of land conservation wise.  Lake Wanaka after leaving Makarora. I remember an old saw miller telling me once that a local couple wanted rimu for their new house so he sourced a supply for them.  A couple of years later another couple nearby wanted to build a house using rimu but the first couple protested and stopped them using rimu.  Now it’s reasonable not to use rimu like this, but it seems to many, it’s ok for me but not anyone else. The same sort of thinking goes for large sections? ….  Councils seem to be intent of these subdivisions to garner taxes for their little empires?  Bendigo One has to really look to find Bendigo and the historic and scenic reserves nearby. They are more historic but well worth seeking out. It was gold that they found here in 1862 and the remains of their workings and huts are scattered around. Once the alluvial gold was taken they started digging so here and there are abandoned mine shafts. The remains of the old miners stone huts seem to appear whenever one looks closer along the gully sides. Most have maybe one or two walls left standing but there are also some that mainly just have the roof missing. Pengally Hotel is in a similar state. I think it is a shame that DOC doesn’t keep things properly maintained. At least stop any further deterioration to the stone work and other relics like the old drays.   Logantown relics, Bendigo area. Pengally Hotel, Bendigo area. This is the country where the ‘world famous’ sheep Shek wandered about and he must have had some good hiding places to evade being rounded up and shorn like the rest of the flock. Grape vines creep up higher to this area than before and one wonders how they can survive in such dry rocky country. Water  from our reducing supply pumped up to them I guess.  Cromwell The old part of the town is quite good and well worth a visit – the ‘new’ part not nice now. The much thought of the new shopping area soon after the dam was built now has many vacant deserted shops and the place seems to be distorted somehow. Queues form at the coffee shops and toilets these days it seems. Old Cromwell. Ophir P&T sign. Clyde is just off State Highway 8 and rests below the Clyde Dam that holds back the water of the long Lake Dunstan. The town was ‘disturbed’ when the dam was being built but now it seems relaxed and preserved!  We wandered around the old but well presented buildings and had lunch.  Ophir A short drive out from Omakau is Ophir. Nothing much at Ophir except history and that made it well worthwhile. Interesting is the old post office built in 1896, and its Queen Victoria...

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Visiting An Old Hunting Ground

Posted by on Apr 5, 2019 in Richmond Diary | 1 comment

Visiting An Old Hunting Ground

It was to be a fixed wing fly-in with Karla and friend Alan, to wander around some of the places that I had hunted fifty three to fifty seven years to ago. Unfortunately, Alan withdrew due to a family illness. After the long drive down we arrived at the Makarora Tourist Centre at the head of Lake Wanaka, were welcomed by the owner, Rhondda Osmers, then checked with pilot Ryan of Southern Alps Air about our flight the next day. Then we settled into one of the A-Frame cabins for the night. I first came to work on Mt Albert Station, across the Makarora River in 1962. I was employed as a carpenter but also helped with the general station work; mustering, docking and such like. In those days there was no power, all gravel winding roads with fords (small streams flowing across the roads) and always that river. In good weather an old ex army GMC truck or a tractor was used to cross the Makarora. If the river was too deep for them, a dray and horse; if too deep for that, just one of the station horses and if it was too deep and swift for a horse – that was it, no access to the outside world. It didn’t seem bad at all, one just went with the flow, or just watched it! With any real emergency one of the local jet boats could be called upon. The road through to the upper West Coast didn’t open until late 1965.   It was when working on Mt Albert that I first met Dave Osmers. He had a sort of shop or shelves stocked with various items that one could buy off him and he also bought venison, velvets, sinews and such like. It didn’t take long before Dave asked if I could give him a hand with shooting deer on ‘his’ hunting blocks on Mt Albert Station. He hunted all the way up the Wilkin, Young, and the Makarora river flats. Over the years I came down a number of times to do some carpentry work on the Station and to work with Dave, commercial hunting, over the roar period. I remember him once enthusiastically saying, ‘let’s get a hundred stags this roar’. I can’t remember if we did or not but we did shoot a lot anyway. In the gaps with the hunting I also worked on some maintenance on Dave’s motel units. And then came the helicopters. Evan Meredith was the boss and he was short of hunters as at the time the price of venison was about one shilling and three pence a pound while Evan was offering only nine pence a pound working with him. It was a lot less but with the high numbers of deer and using the helicopter, Evan’s price turned out to be very good. Dave and I joined up with Evan’s four other hunters and we hunted the tops of the Wilkin, Jumboland, Newlands, the slopes of Mt Kuri, Tiel Creek and Young Range. The helicopter was only used for transport, not for shooting from as that was illegal. So I ended up pretty fit and got to know Dave very well. He was a good companion, friend and hunter. In-between hunting and somewhere along the...

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