That was a stunner of a day.
The weather was perfect. It was crystal clear to begin with and a few small puffy cumulus clouds formed later in the day. There was almost no wind most of the day. Beginning in Queenstown, we went down towards Invercargill beside beautiful Lake Wakatipu which was at its magnificent best.
A little past Fairlight, we turned on to the Nevis road and began the long and winding climb across the Southern part of the Remarkable Range. Far below, the quilted farmland was spreading out below the Eyre Range across the lake. Over the ridge and down to the Nevis Valley we marveled at the vast grandeur of the landscape.
A hut in the distance helps give a sense of scale to the place.
This is not a road for the average family sedan, it’s definitely for serious four-wheel drive vehicles. Fortunately, Andrew has a large and very capable Toyota which negotiated some of the rutted tracks with ease, and gave Andrew and the children some fun as they splashed though some of the many fords along the way.
We stopped for lunch on a sunny bank beside a pond near some gold tailings and some remains of old stone miners dwellings. The large fireplace at either end of the small room was a testament to the savage cold in this region in winter, as was the total absence of any surviving trees nearby.
I walked around the small lake trying to get different angles on the remains of the mining settlement. There is a plant which is regrettably called “Horrid Spaniard” (Acyphylla horrida) and which can reputedly puncture mountain bike tyres. It certainly hurts if you wander into it.
Eighty kilometres after leaving the lake, we reached the top of the valley above Bannockburn and looked down on the lovely blue of the distant Lake Dunstan. We enjoyed a very welcome cool drink at a pleasant hostelry called Pisa Moorings on the shores of the lake.
A truly fantastic day.
*”How Great Thou Art” by Stuart K Hine