In the wide open spaces between Queenstown and Arrowtown, there is more concentrated affluence than I have seen anywhere else in New Zealand.
Beautiful houses in beautiful settings, they are for the most part beyond the wildest imaginings of most New Zealanders. Many of them have ancient artefacts artfully strewn here and there, in seeming casual placements that probably cost quite a lot to achieve.
My son took me for a drive in that area yesterday, and we paused for a coffee in the Millbrook Golf resort. Old wagon wheels and farm implements bearing no obvious connection to golf presented photo-opportunities. From there, we went on to a place called Thurlby Domain. This was one of the early grand houses in the area from the time of its construction in 1872 until its fall into ruin around 1946.
Another house is on the property now, but the ruins have become a favoured venue for wedding photographs.
They are certainly appealing, in a lovely garden setting. Willows and poplar sit comfortably in a large open lawn, surrounded by pines and other trees. A pretty stream tumbles over a series of man-made weirs and reflects the trees behind.
Some of the old agricultural buildings of the estate still stand more or less intact. Farm workers cottages, stables, cow sheds and barns all reflect the European style of farming which must have been the norm when this estate was in its heyday.
The public seem to have free access to what is private property, though there is apparently a charge for its use as a formal photography venue. In other countries, I suspect the ruins would be fenced off for fear of lawsuits if anyone got hurt.
Here it was a joy to get unfettered access.