Exploring the Rock and Pillar Range in Central Otago

I’ve often wondered how this area got it’s name because to me it’s all about wind up on the tops, but then again I’ve not yet seen it’s full extent, especially the northern end around the historic [skiing] Big Hut area.

Recently though I’ve been poking my nose into the southern end, and it’s been enjoyable, despite being chased away by wind recently at about 3am – even after being parked into the gale the noise and rocking made sleep impossible, but that’s another story.

The ascent up from Styx Creek – I call this beautiful place Butterfly Rock…
Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

This is another much larger tor higher up – a bit too high for butterflies
Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

The view to the south…
Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

The view to the north…
Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

I used my 4wd Land Cruiser camper to get up aways to these high spots [google satellite map link], but on encountering a boggy patch and being alone I parked up and climbed on foot up to the left of this very large outcrop, then circled it and came down on the right. It was pretty chilly, so I “called it a day”, and descended, then spent sometime looking for a flat camping spot near where I’d parked, but everything was too steep, so I drove down to my favourite place…Tor, Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

A well earned cold beer and a sunset…Camping, Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

This used to be the Great Moss Swamp, but it was dammed for irrigation in the early 1980’s. Quite a tragedy by today’s reckoning, as it was the largest alpine wetland in the southern hemisphere. Now it’s called the Loganburn Reservoir…Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

My favourite camping spot at 1006 m above worry level – I call this spot yogi butterfly rock. But don’t be fooled – this is where the wind can be wild and free…Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

Dawn…Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

I “found” this a bit by accident while exploring the reservoir’s dam – they’re very private and even sheltered, but you’d best hurry if it’s raining! The crib, or bach as they’re known here is for those prone to fishing for introduced brown trout. The question is posed though: Ladies, gents and ?  Toilets, Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

The rocks in the area were used as fence posts in the early days…Fence Post, Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago NZ

This photo was made on my last trip 2-3 weeks ago. The evening started out quite nice, but the ominous clouds heralded some very strong winds, and arrived at 3am, forcing me to move to a more sheltered location 7 km away…Rock and Pillar Range, Central Otago, NZ

Again from 2-3 weeks ago – the road heading north.. Many of the black and white photos above were made on the high point in the distance…

Rogue weather for a roadie from Central Otago to the Mckenzie Basin and back again via Dunedin

Lake Ohau lupins as a Nor Wester pipes down the valleys…
Lake Ohau Lupin

Braemar Road near Lake Tekapo…
NZ defence force land at braemar, lake tekapo

Wind! Lake Pukaki from Braemar Road…
Snow tussock at braemar, lake tekapo

Looking up the Jollie Valley from the Alps 2 Ocean bike trail…
wilding pines at jolly valley

NW storm at the head of Lake Pukaki with dust from the Tasman River delta…
dust storm tasman river delta, mt cook national park

The same view as a southerly front moves up Lake Pukaki, driving cold air under warm moist air, so it started snow a hour after this evening photo…
storm tasman river delta, mt cook national park

The next morning…
Dawn on Ben ohau mountain range

Driving back to Lake Tekapo…
power pole Braemar station

Driving back to Lake Tekapo…
snow Braemar station

Driving back to Lake Tekapo…
snow Braemar station

Driving back to Lake Tekapo…
snow on lupins

Driving back to Lake Tekapo…
Braemar road farm building

Driving back to Lake Tekapo…
Braemar road

Burkes Pass while heading toward Fairlie and Timaru…
Burkes Pass vintage cars

Driving south to Dunedin in extreme weather conditions…
Star Highway flooded road in Otago

Ross Creek walk Dunedin – an infa red photo…
ross creek

Interesting house at Woodhaugh Dunedin…
woodhaugh old house

Heading back to Wanaka, and it was still raining, which made to nice light photographically – St Bathans…
st bathans

Heading back to Wanaka, and it was still raining, which made to nice light photographically – St Bathans…
st bathans

My camper that I did the stormy trip in [Matukituki valley – near Wanaka]…
Land cruiser camper

The magic of the Glendhu Bay area of Lake Wanaka

I went out a couple of evenings ago to capitalise on the beautiful evening light we’ve been getting lately, and the cool airs, after another scorcher in Wanaka – I even had a swim 🙂

I was not disappointed with the burnt off grass tones, and the reflective nature of the water surface mimicking the clouds was a bonus …

Roys Peak Wanaka, from Glendhu Bay
Roys Peak Wanaka, from the Glendhu Bay area

Glendhu Bay and Mt Aspiring
Glendhu Bay with Mt Aspiring in the background

Emerald bluffs Wanaka


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