Some little known Lake Hawea and Wanaka history of gold mining back in the 1880’s

As tourists when we tick the boxes on the must-visit places it can be a bit of a rush. Then it’s easy to overlook other rushes accommodated by the past.

Close to Wanaka and on the very busy road beside Lake Hawea that goes to Haast and South Westland it’s easy to rush by a little creek on the left called Craigburn, and it’s accompanying Dept of Conservation interpretation board, which alerts us to some history of gold mining endeavours upstream back around 1880, mainly in a tributary called Long Gully.

Now days called the Matatiaho Conservation Area it once sported 200 miners, three stores and a butchery, but this development was not long lived as the hope of finding the source of the gold in the very rugged and deeply incised headwaters upstream came to nought. Sadly little evidence of this has survived.

Flowering kanuka and lupins as seen from the DOC track, with a backdrop of Lake Hawea…
Craigburn


About an hour in, the track comes to an end as it drops into seclusion down by the river at some signage, and a small gate in a deer fence…
Craigburn 2


Hunters [permit required] usually frequent the rugged country further to the west [through above mentioned small gate], and to the much steeper southern areas including Mt Burke…
Craigburn 4


Craigburn 3


Lupins by the carpark…
Craigburn 5

Redwoods at Wanaka Station Park

How do you assimilate such immense, ancient, stately, mysterious and powerful redwood trees into language?

It seems to be as much of a challenge as capturing their essence in a photo!

Their existence is their very presence or vice versa – no “soft” wood here, but the voice of patience and endurance.

They come from a humble seed no bigger than one from an apple to achieve prodigious ages and dimensions of up to 120 meters tall, with a width of several at the base. And they continue to flourish in a history of up to 160 million years in the making, and going back 20 million years in their present range.

They probably had dinosaurs scratching their trunks!

California’s North Coast is the most well known location in the world that provides an environment they like – one underscored by cool, moist air created by the Pacific Ocean keeping the trees continually damp, even during summer droughts. And yet here they are in New Zealand, and in Wanaka we don’t have a lot of damp moist air!

Theories continue to develop as to why they grow so old and tall, but proof remains elusive. The trees can reach ages of 2000 years and regularly reach 600 years.

Powered by the leaves’ diffusion of water, water-to-water molecular bonds in the trees’ sapwood drags the moisture upwards – and to move thousands of litres maybe even in a day to such a height is quite a feat. During the summer, this transpiration apparently causes redwood stems to shrink and swell with the cycles of day and night.

Here a recent picture of one of the entry way to a magical place hosting some redwoods, Wanaka Station Park…

Redwood at Wanaka Station Park

Wanaka Station was a large sheep station In the late 19th century covering land from the head of Lake Wanaka to the nearby Cardrona Valley.

The foundations remain of original homestead which it seems burned down twice, and these and the land has been preserved as a park, which includes beautiful mature fruit trees and giant redwoods. More latterly many other species such as rhododendron have become established…

Wanaka Station park

A Sunday walk – the Gladstone Track, Lake Hawea

The relatively new Gladstone Track along the Lake Hawea foreshore turned out to be much more delightful walk than I thought. Apparently the name came from a proposed settlement many many years ago, that never eventuated.

Also Johns Creek was not named after someone called John, but after a family by that name.

Click any thumbnail to display the gallery…

An early launching of Wanaka Images and Photography

I’ve had this site for a while – it languished perhaps because of timing. After all timing is everything in all things!

Having got my eco site Southern Light to where I wanted it yesterday, I turned my attention to this one.

It needed a look consistent with the aims, so setting it up came well before populating it with good visual content.

Which was just as well as I had no idea FaceBook would be tracking it every time I posted an article or image. The intention was to upload content then release it in the wild in a few weeks.

Consequently the project is launched!

Serendipitously at the same time [today] I’ve just been interviewed by a skilled journalist with the Central Otago News[paper], so along with my back ground pertaining to conservation and the environment I slipped in a mention of Wanaka Images…

… and so its open for business!

It’s a WordPress Multi-site which means any interested person can have their own web site within it, e.g. wanakaimages.com/mysite

Start your own journal blog site, or web site to promote the area, your photography, or business for the introductory offer of $NZ 5.00/month +GST payable in advance. Set up is free.

Also author/photographers, who don’t want a site and the work of maintaining same, are welcome to publish relevant articles/photos for free within wanakaimages.com/my_article_whatever_its_name. These will be moderated to ensure content is appropriate.

Mail me Donald don@southernlight.co.nz to get started

The “tree” today…

Wanaka tree today

When the rain clears on Lake Wanaka magic is revealed

A couple of evenings ago a soft cold rain seemed set in, but then a few light patches appeared to support a rainbow in the north, so I rushed off to face that direction.

Meanwhile the clearance continued and looking west; well I followed my eyes.

On arrival near the famous Wanaka lake tree another excited photographer, who was rushing about, shouted out as he pointed, “is that the lonely tree?’

I gave him a thumbs up and off we scurried.

After getting this image on the fly, I lent him my tripod which seemed to surprise him – maybe they don’t do that sort of thing in Hong Kong!

Wanaka Station Park and Web Site Upgrade

Hi There

This blog is under reconstruction as of late Oct 2017

Here are two recent pictures of the entry ways to a magical place, Wanaka Station Park.

Wanaka Station was a large sheep station In the late 19th century covering land from the head of Lake Wanaka to the nearby Cardrona Valley.

The foundations remain of original homestead which it seems burned down twice, and these and the land has been preserved as a park, which includes beautiful mature fruit trees and giant redwoods. More latterly many other species such as rhododendron have become established.


Wanaka station park


The nearby Cardrona Valley and a weather change

We’ve just had many days of settled weather in Wanaka and in winter this equates to either an inversion cloud base hanging over the town [where the temperatures actually are higher as one ascends – proved by going up to a ski area], or the skies stay clear and we have wicked frosts…
Hawea River frost and sunrise

And it’s when the weather is on the cusp of change that other possible scenarios present themselves as landscape photography opportunities. In this case it’s warmed up as cloud with accompanying wind comes in from the north west.

For this image, just a 20 min drive up the Cardrona Valley was all it took to capitalise on the change photographically speaking…
Mt Cardronai