South Island meanderings…January 2018 (Part 3) Naseby-St Bathans-Pinders Pond-Lake Onslow-Clyde Dam

18 Jan – left Ranfurly along SH85 heading towards Alexandra but decided to detour to Naseby and St Bathans for another look.  Detoured again before Naseby to revisit Coal Pit Dam in the Naseby Forest.  The lake was still pretty but not as spectacular as our visit in Autumn when the different colours of the trees were reflecting on the water.

At Naseby we parked and went for a walk to take photos of some buildings we’d overlooked on our last visit.

Watchmakers window

The little museum was open this time so we went in for a look.  It has some good exhibits and some old coaches and carriages on display.  It’s certainly worth a visit.

Onward to St Bathans and we ate our lunch overlooking the Blue Lake.  The road down to the lake edge was open today so ventured down…just as well it’s visible from the bottom so people didn’t try to drive out while our truck was hogging the narrow track.

Lots of people were having picnics beside the lake and a few hardy kids were swimming despite a strong, cooler wind blowing.We then drove to the DOC camp on the other side of the town and spent two nights there.  Last visit we were the only ones around, this time the camp was quite busy.

We got rain overnight but woke up to a fine but cooler day, so we decided to do the walk back to the Blue Lake.  We were hopeful of getting some photos when the lake was actually ‘blue’ and not just ‘grey’.  Some blue sky around today…so might be lucky. Arrived at the lake after 15mins of walking and started exploring around the lake paths which we found in a really poor state since our last visit.

Heavy rains have obviously caused lots of washouts.  We didn’t see anyone else so reckoned the whole track was actually closed…we’d seen some signs the day before near the village and just thought it was one part of the track.  Walking in the way we did, there were no such notices, so we continued on around the circular walk.

View of the lake end

Mining relics

And our photos of the lake today…ranged from green, greeny-blue to blue…depending on the direction of the sun and the cloud cover overhead!

The Beach end of the lake

We decided not to walk as far as St Bathans town and cut across the walkway to join the track beside the road and then retraced our steps back to camp.

Felt glad that we’d done our walk early as another hot and humid wind arrived in the afternoon.  In the evening the sky was real ‘moody’ and then it rained again overnight.

20 Jan – onward…a nice drive down the valley back to the main road.  Came out at Becks were there the historic White Horse Hotel is sited.  No photo though as we were busy looking at the ‘new’ White Horse Hotel on our left while the original one was actually on the opposite side of the road…so we accidentally shot past it.  No place to do a U-turn easily so we continued on. Interesting in that the hotels are located exactly halfway between the Equator and the South Pole.

Arrived at Omakau and booked into the Van Park there – $25 for a power site.  Another place where we’ve stayed before…we didn’t actually need the power, but they have an interesting fee structure there.  The non-powered sites cost $30 and are classed as tent spots and the occupants make more use of the camp facilities (hence the higher rate).  But we still used the loos and showers as nothing says we have to be self-contained.  The only thing we didn’t use was the kitchen or the lounge building.  Even to us it seems to be a bit unfair for a couple in a little car with a tent or a campervan.  No doubt they get lots of argument on that one.  The dump station and water tap are ‘public’ as are the toilets and the children’s play ground – Casuals drove in all day to use those too for free.  Strange!!

I also wanted to do our laundry – and the laundry and ablution blocks there are new and spotless…which is always a bonus.  Everything was dry just after lunch in the heat that was back with a vengeance at 32°C.

A big crowd of people arrived during the afternoon for a ‘Tangi’ in the Hall Building.  Cars were parked all over the camp in every nook and cranny and women were in the camp kitchen most of the day preparing food (campers wouldn’t have got near the place).  Eventually the hearse arrived about 2:30 pm and the coffin was carried into the Hall past a young guard of honour performing an impressive haka.  Things didn’t quieten down till about 8:00 pm. Phew…we felt quite exhausted after all the activity!

22 Jan – onward to Alexandra via Ophir to drive over the Historic Suspension Bridge again.

Arrived in Alexandra and parked alongside the Clutha River and walked back to the shops.  Bought lunch in town and on the way back I got another great haircut at the local Barber Shop.  Price has risen to $50 since my last visit but it did include a blow dry afterwards.

Re-fuelled at McKeowns and drove to the NZMCA POP beside the public swimming pool.  It’s exclusive for club members but is only classed as a POP (park over property).  It’s on Council Land and the Club is not allowed to collect fees (like we pay at Club Parks) otherwise there would be objection from the Caravan Parks in the area that it was operating as a camping ground.  Whatever…we don’t care if we park there and it costs us nothing!  All we have to do is sign in and register in the ‘book’ on arrival.  Thank you Central Otago District Council!  There is also a voluntary form to complete indicating how much money you spend in the area, which is a good indication that whilst we camp ‘free’ local business do benefit from us being there.

If we thought Ranfurly was hot…next day it was 35° outside and 37° inside…phew!!  So the following morning we decided to move to Pinders Pond near Roxburgh to see if it was any cooler there.  Did our grocery shopping before leaving town and then headed southwards.  Stopped in Roxburgh briefly then crossed the town bridge over the Clutha River to go to Pinders Pond.  It was very busy there this time of the year and it wasn’t easy finding a level spot to park up.  Eventually got settled with the help of double blocks under the rear wheels.  Thank goodness we arrived early in the afternoon…by nightfall it was ‘standing room only’ so to speak!

Boys plastering themselves with mud and then washing off

We went for a walk later in the afternoon and ended up going right around the pond again.  Saw lots of tents and cars among the trees on the far side this time.  In winter it was all too wet there for vehicles.  People were also swimming and enjoying cooling off from the heat.  Only one toilet in the park…it was a busy place.

We ended up staying four nights. Got friendly with a couple in a 5th Wheeler and one morning they came over and asked if we’d like to go for a ride with them in their 4WD Nissan 4-door Ute up to Lake Onslow.  We have been there in our motorhome but didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to go again, so grabbed our camera and some lunch and off we went.

Took a different road through rolling farmland and throughout the journey we stopped frequently for photo stops.

Joined up with Lake Onslow Road and we could see that some work has been done to improve the road since our visit.  The lake soon came into view and on arrival at the Huts area we stopped for a quick look around…quite a few of them occupied and boats out on the water.

Drove on and over the top of the Dam (Teviot River) and around the western side of the lake.  We didn’t see the Dam or go that far last time as it had started to rain and we’d left quickly so as to get off the clay road before it turned to slush and avoid the risk of getting stuck.

Start of the Teviot River downstream of the Dam

Peter turned the Ute onto a side track where we stopped for lunch overlooking the lake and watched the dust trail from two motorcycles that had passed us earlier, disappearing into the distance further up the Lake Onslow Road.

The road eventually crosses over the Old Dunstan Road and ends up at Patearoa, south of Ranfurly.  There was a sign on the fence beside the track where we’d stopped, that indicated that the track led into the Manorburn Conservation Area, east of Alexandra.  Quite interesting when you look on a map and see where all these high country roads lead to.

Hmm…unusual shaped hills!

March of the pylons

After our break we started on our way back, past the Dam area again.

See the rabbit?

Back along the road we passed two lonely Memorial Stones and stopped to check them out.  Later I looked online, to see if I could find some information about them but drew a blank.

More views on the drive out (the white dots are grazing sheep)

We took a different route at the road fork which came out near Millers Flat and from there returned to Pinders Pond.

We were so chuffed that we had the opportunity to go on the trip with Peter and Karon…we went so much further along the road than we got 18 months ago and we got to see areas we missed on our trip.  That’s the beauty of having a separate 4WD vehicle to get to these places without having to worry so much about the condition of the road and getting the motorhome stuck.

The Clutha River Cycle Trail goes right past Pinders Pond following the Clutha River, so we finally got the bicycles off the back of the motorhome and went for a pedal along part of it.  The path is quite undulating with fabulous views as it follows the riverbank.

Looking downstream

We were aiming to get as far as Millers Flat, however, called a halt after 4½ kms (which was about halfway) and headed back to camp.  I was enjoying the ride (and N less so) but it was the right decision as my bicycle was giving me grief…the gears have stiffened up so much with the lack of use, that I couldn’t get free-wheeling on the uphill bits and it was quite a ‘trudge’ on the pedals to get anywhere.  Great exercise…but tiring on a hot day for sure.

We stopped more often on the return to take to take some more photos.

We’d seen some serious water irrigation going on across the river and it appears that the upright pipe opposite is where the pump is (it was thumping away quite noisily) and someone from a vehicle was tending to it.

More irrigation across the river…but what is that in the water?
Maybe it was a freedom camper that wasn’t doing the right thing and was dealt to by the locals, lol

28 Jan – time to move on again, we had already ‘overstayed’ our max camping time by a day…but then no-one seemed to be counting and lots of others were there before we arrived and looked in no hurry to leave yet.

Last view of Pinders Pond before leaving

Stopped at one of the orchards along the main road after leaving Roxburgh.  Bought some luscious looking apricots ($12 for 2kg) and some nectarines, peaches and plums.  We were eating fruit flat-out over the next week before they spoiled in the hot weather.

Old building near Roxburgh

Back in Alexandra we did a bit of shopping then drove to the area near the Shakey Bridge hoping to catch up with Lyn and Merv – the couple that took us with them in their 4WD car up to see The Obelisk on the Old Man Range high above the Clutha Valley.  Unfortunately they were not home and a neighbour told us they are off travelling in their new motorhome somewhere…good for them.  Maybe we’ll see them on the road somewhere instead.

29 Jan – left Alexandra and drove through to Clyde. Going to spend a couple of days camped beside Lake Dunstan above the Clyde Dam in the area provided by Contact Energy for CSC campers.  There is a limit of 12 vehicles and when we got there around lunchtime we counted 9 other vehicles already (by nightfall the limit was well and truly exceeded).

The couple in the caravan next to us were from Alexandra but say they often come out to the lake when it’s really hot at home as there is always a cooler breeze blowing down the lake.  They had a cute border collie that was obsessed with fetching sticks thrown into the water…if you had the patience we reckoned it would do it all day!

Looking towards the top of the Dam
A beautiful day!

Next day was another scorcher at 35° and we finally succumbed to the heat and jumped into the lake to cool off.  Later that evening we even went for a second swim…it was 9:00pm before we got out.  That’s a record for us this trip…2 swims in one day!

Last day of January we were packing up to move on when our neighbours arrived back after checking on their house in Alexandra and surprised us with a container full of tomatoes and some cucumbers fresh from their garden.  So great to have tomatoes with ‘real’ taste!

Drove up the main highway to Cromwell…went to the dump station to do our ablutions and got rid of our recycling and a couple of small bags of rubbish for free at the Refuse Station nearby.  Good service for travellers with just a few bags to get rid of.

Then headed up the lake to Lowburn Harbour – free camp right on the lakeshore.  Again another favourite spot of ours (10 steps and we get wet feet).

Going to stop there for a few days as the forecast was predicting some bad weather and thought we’d sit it out before moving on again.

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One thought on “South Island meanderings…January 2018 (Part 3) Naseby-St Bathans-Pinders Pond-Lake Onslow-Clyde Dam

  1. Chris Nuttall June 12, 2018 / 6:34 pm

    Great to see your coverage of the areas we have been to. Lake Onslow will definitely be on our next years itinerary.


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