9. A Walk Along Rakaia Gorge

We stayed for two nights at a private camp on the western side of the Rakaia Gorge bridges. There was a nice little walk back up the hill to a vantage point over part of the Rakaia Gorge – this was called the Taniwha Walk as a local Maori legend tells of a big nor’westerly that flattened the taniwha’s home one day when he was away. (In Maori legend, many of the lakes and rivers of NZ had taniwha living in them). The taniwha in retaliation filled the river with stones and rocks from the high mountains to block the path of the nor’west wind, and these formed the gorge.

Kevin fossicking in the riverbed. Behind him, on the other side of the river, tour boats are operating – they were constantly up and down the river taking people for sightseeing trips through the Gorge.
In the bank you can see very old layers of past river stones as the Rakaia has slowly worn and cut down through the ground, deeper and deeper.
Part of this bank has recently collapsed, probably due to heavy rain and a river in flood.
A beautiful Rakaia Gorge cliff face.
We headed out for a walk along the gorge hoping to find the old coal mines there, and to get a view of the upper reaches of the gorge!
From a vantage point – if you can see the diagonal path leading up the hill top centre, then you know where we are going. The gully you can just pick out before the path begins is where the disused coal mines are.
Crossing some volcanic material…and crossing the paths of other people out walking. A couple on holiday from Australia who had just seen a bird that got them totally excited. We worked out it might have been a rifleman. Another couple – awesome cheesemakers who travel to other parts of the world to teach people how to make cheese so they can do it in their own communities.
One of the mines – completely blocked off with an iron gate. Those are railway tracks in the foreground, once used for coaltrucks to run along to carry the coal out – and supplies in!
A second mine, also blocked off.
Regenerating native bush with kowhai in front and ti/cabbage trees tall at the back.
From the top of the diagonal path the upper gorge can be seen – as always, the photo doesn’t do it justice!
The upper gorge using magnification.
We can see all the way back to the bridges and camp.
Keeping to our self-imposed one metre back from the edge of this cliff, we tried to take a closer look at that volcanic material on our way back.
Back near the bridge we watched a fisherman at work. Salmon and trout run the length and breadth of the Rakaia River. Maybe we’ll have a go at it – certainly are being inspired by all the people out there doing it!

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