29. Basalt Mystery Solved

Another campervanner in the NZMCA park up in Dunedin told Kevin about the nearby Rock and Mineral Club and it’s mullock heap out the front, so we went and had a look there. Quite a few travelling people have animals with them; we’ve met several dogs and cats. In this park up alone we saw someone taking their cat for a walk using a harness and leash, and a dog left behind to successfully save it’s owner’s van space. We see a lot of animals – one night (not here) a friendly cat came to visit, settling itself in for the evening on my bed. A dog has been in also, but it’s owner called it back out. While here we’ve also bought a generator and been for walks in the bush, under the cliffs next to the park up. A walk is what we were doing when we heard about the murders happening in Christchurch. As we both still remember what we were doing when we heard about the Erebus aircrash all those years ago, I doubt we’ll ever forget what we were doing when we heard about the mass murder.

Just before leaving Dunedin we took a walk onto the flanks of Mt Cargill to see it’s basalt columns.

It wasn’t until after we left that our basalt mystery was solved!

The Otago Rock and Mineral Clubrooms share their premises with the Deerstalkers Association. The mullock heap is on the ground to the right.
On our way to Mt Cargill.
Kevin kindly drove me to the basalt columns on Mt Cargill, even though he didn’t want to come on the actual walk. The track started by going up these steep steps…
…which turned into a path held together by lengths of – basalt columns!! I started thinking it would be nice to live in Dunedin and have rocks like these close by.
The path turned into smooth shingle as it shallowed out. At one point I came out of the bush to see a view of Otago Harbour – with a sight like this it was hard to turn back to the track!
I came upon this sign…
…and the track turned into basalt columns. Wow, wow, wow!
I dumped my pack to play. This photo is looking back on the track I was just on.
The source of the rock lay above, higher on the hill – the photo shows a close up of it.
Heading back down, I saw a tumble of basalt columns in the bank, so climbed up…
…to find a second exposed area of columns.
We left Dunedin heading for Roxburgh. On our way we looked out for stopping areas at Blackhead as I’d heard there were basalt columns out this way. I wasn’t disappointed – see the peak in the background? It’s a mountain of basalt columns being quarried away. Mystery suddenly solved!
We walked away from it, along the beach, deciding to stay here until the tide went out far enough that we could walk around the base of the basalt peak – the sea was looking pretty rough there!
This sea lion was shining golden in the sun, and very chilled out.
The tide was taking a long time to go out; I checked the tide tables on my phone and it wasn’t going to be low tide until early evening.
We returned to the caravan for a late lunch and a cuppa, and noticed that the quarry was all shut down – so, being a weekend, we snuck up for a look.
Settling ponds.
I guess the blocks that become too broken up to use on the harbour cycleway get crushed further for other purposes.
A dried up pond on top, with the beautiful basalt behind!
At the face of the quarried rock, a great view over the sea!
Late afternoon was approaching, so we returned to the beach and walked along towards the peak.
This was the tide at it’s lowest. Perhaps with a king tide it wouldn’t even be possible to come along here.
Look at all that rimurapa/bull kelp! This is the same stuff Maori once used to slit open and store food – such as birds encased in their own fat. Apparently, properly stored in this way, food would stay preserved for a few years. As kids, we would slit it open and slide our feet in, using it as slippers.
It was so lovely where we were parked, in a small rest area, that we stayed the night and left early next morning. It’s times like these when I really love being self-contained!

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