Oops, I forgot to blog this one in order, so it has to be numbered in a half!
From Oamaru, via Palmerston, we reached Ranfurly (where we would stop for several days to bike the Rail Trail), by driving on the Pigroot road which runs through and over the Horse Range. After having seen a lot of hydro dams in past weeks we are now going right away from that, leaving Canterbury and heading into Central Otago and gold mining country instead, with it’s mine tailings and kilometres and kilometres of water races once used to transport water to mining areas! Geographically close, but two completely different geological, environmental and social histories.
In Central Otago, there is now only one working gold mine left which is Macrae’s. It’s further south from where we are on a different road, but we hope to travel that way before leaving this area. Other than that, much of the gold mining was done in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, so is past history.
Back to the Pigroot, this route saw a lot of activity by the early Europeans as it was a main way into gold country. Between about 1865 and 1895 it was used to transport people and gear to support the frenzy of gold mining and was no walk-in-the-park with steep uphills and downhills and lots of mud. It took several days to travel, and horses that found the going too tough and died were pushed over the banks as burial. As soon as the railway was built it quickly became the more popular way to travel and transport goods.
We drove in to Naseby which is a short drive from Ranfurly. Naseby is famous for it’s year-round ice rink, used for curling. It was late in the day by the time we got there, so we were too late to visit. Someone we talked with later said they visited when it was open but it was sold out. I guess the best way is to book your tickets online – we’ll do it that way next time we’re passing through as it would be fun to have a go.