Nov 05 2003

Camps: Fairlie Camp

Published by under Both Hikers & Trampers,Camps


3-7/11/2003 Fairlie Camp.

Monday.  Town walk.
Tuesday. Repeater Station, McKenzie Pass via Cricklewood Road. Return Rollesby Road. Uphill climb. Snow at top at the moment. Subject to weather. 4-5 hours.

Tea Break. Rollesby slopes. Doug Arthur Bill Barbara Pat Ria Evelyn Lex Who?

Mt Rollesby. Lex Doug Bill Pat Lesley Who? Graham Ria Claude

Wednesday. Mount John by lakeside walk. Return through forest. Park cars at campground. 2-3 hours.
After lunch park cars at Pine Beach and climb Cowans Hill. Easy walk. 1.5 hours.
Thursday. Fairlie River walk to Opihi Gorge Road. 3 hours return. Can be extended up Ophi Gorge. 2 hours return. Uphill. Rough in places.

Ophi Gorge Track. Ria, Who?


A Walking Holiday in the MacKenzie Country – Les Wiffen.
The Taieri Recreational Tramping Club was started fifteen years ago and as well as a weekly tramp every Wednesday, we do three trips away each year by car or bus. One of our bus trips was covered in an article “Two Week Hiking Adventure” in “Walking in New Zealand”, August 2001. So another article of a recent trip to the MacKenzie Country  may give readers a further insight into walking in the Mainland.

Thirty-three of our members  left Mosgiel and Dunedin for Fairlie early on Monday 3-11-03, with two or three to a car. On arrival, members went to their accommodation in the Fairlie Gateway Holiday Park, which is an excellent facility and was ideal for our needs. Twenty members who arrived before 2 p.m. opened the week with a two-hour walk on the Lovelock Memorial Track, which was fairly flat, 8 kms long and crossed several fords. It was most enjoyable and a lovely afternoon. Jack Lovelock was born locally and won the 1500 metres at the Berlin Olympics in 1936.

Other members who arrived during the afternoon contented themselves with a sightseeing walk around Fairlie and were impressed by the clean tidy appearance and the lovely flower gardens in the town. The next day’s walks were advised during the ‘happy hour’.

Tuesday at 9.00 a.m. Twelve of the more energetic members drove to the MacKenzie Pass, parked their cars 200 metres above the spot where MacKenzie, the infamous sheep rustler and his dog were apprehended. They walked up to the repeater station, which took 2.5 hours. They had lunch at the station on the lee side of the building, as the wind chill factor was such that ice was forming on the support cables and at times breaking and falling off. Return to the cars was uneventful and took just over an hour. The view across the MacKenzie basis to the Southern Alps was majestic under cloudless skies.

The rest of the members drove to Monavale road, about 20 kms from Fairlie towards Pleasant Point, and 7 kms down this country lane arrived at Monavale School and parked the cars. The old school house, a lovely old limestone building, opened in 1913 and closed in 1944. A recently retired  farmer, Mr Ray Leslie who attended the school in the 1940 and is an authority on the district, gave us a talk on the history of the school, with many personal reminiscences of the early days. He also showed us around the classroom, which was filled with photos, some old school books and a memorial board to former pupils killed in both world wars.

After morning tea, we walked under his directions from the valley up to a high point called Greenhills, which was about 1300 feet above seal level, and from where we had a wonderful panoramic view from coast to Southern Alps. Starting from Pareora Gorge in the south,  TImaru Harbour, Washdyke, Port Hills, Little Mt Peel, Mt Peel, Four Peaks Mt Dobson and MacKenzie and Burkes Passes. In the valley south of Greehills are some limestone caves, one of which has a 40 metre vertical drop, leading to a cavern and in the bottom there is water which flows from the MacKenzie country. Ray was thanked for sharing his knowledge and interesting facts about the area. We had lunch and the a 5 km walk back to the cars. On all trampers’ return, we had ‘happy hour’ and a briefing for the next day’s trip.

Wednesday at 9.00 a.m. All the members drove to Lake Tekapo, parked by the lake and commenced climbing Mt John, going up beside the lake. It was really hot and sun hats and sun screen were a necessity. Part-way up, stopped for morning tea and then split into two groups. The fast pack were followed by the rest. We climbed for at least an hour, and then returned to the cars at the lake car park where we had lunch. About 1.00 p.m, the fast pack arrived, having completed the round trip to the top, returning down through the forest track. We all drove to the other side of the lake, parked, and most of us walked up to the Lookout on Cowans Hill. We continued on across country, following the markers, and came to a further high point where we had a great view looking across the lake (which was quite low!) at the snow-covered mountains of the Southern Alps. This was finished at Tekapo township, so we continued round by the lake, past the small Church of the Good Shepherd on the lakefront and finally to the cars. This took about 2 hours, and was quite warm. Before returning to Fairlie, we had a short walk round the tourist village. We had a further stop at Burkes Pass Cemetery, which had some very interesting graves. On our return, it was time for our usual ‘happy hour’ and details of our final  day’s walk were given.

Thursday, 9.00 a.m. After a busy week, we walked from the camp which was by the Allendale Bridge that crosses the Opihi River and started on the Fairlie river-walk. This continues on to the Opihi river-track that comes out at the Opihi Gorge road. Some of us returned via Tabot road which passes the very nice golf course, an ostrich farm and a bird sanctuary, which has a large variety of birds. Some of us arrived back at the camp in time for lunch and  the other members were back by 2.00 p.m. Most members spent the afternoon around the town. Some went to the church hall for line dancing and some visited the cemetery,  the last resting place of many of the original settlers to the area, including the grave of the parents of Jack Lovelock. It is the only grave that runs east-west in the cemetery.

Fourteen of us went to the Old Library Cafe to wine and dine on our last night,  which was most enjoyable. Afterwards, four of us decided to have a short walk in Fairlie and came across some townsfolk preparing a statue of MacKenzie and his dog for an unveiling, which was to take place the following day, Friday 7th. We were permitted to take the first photo of the statue before it was redraped for the following day’s ceremony. It was shown on TV One news on the Friday night. We also met the man who sculptured the memorial and the lady chairperson who had worked very hard to get it ready for unveiling. So we returned to our cabins for our last night at Farlie and it was off back home on Friday. The members are indebted to those on the committee who made all the arrangements, with special mention of Colleen, Past President, Nelson, our Secretary, and Claude, who did the necessary recces.

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