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A base for bonspiels and brass monkeys

On our drive through the Maniototo we stopped at one of our favourite spots, the Idaburn Dam. Located near the settlement of Oturehua, the dam is a bit of a year round facility for various endeavours but it’s the winter activities, history and beautiful setting that holds the appeal for us.

The dam is fenced off but the gate isn’t locked so on our occasional visits there we always pop in. This was the first time with so much snow around so we didn’t venture onto the flat land above the dam. The Brass Monkey Motorcycle Rally is held there each June – they got off lightly this year on account of the mild start to winter.

In our not overly suitable footwear we trudged through the fluffy white ground covering to get a closer look at the ice. In winter the dam usually freezes over (to some extent) and in some years the winter is cold enough to create ice thick enough to support activities such as skating and curling. In some years conditions permit the bonspiel to be held. This has been the venue for almost 80 years and the national outdoor curling tournament was most recently held in 2010, 2007 and 2001.

The weathered facilities at the dam hint at the history of ice based activities and beg closer inspection. We wandered around until damp and numb feet made us head back to the car.

The main road and the Central Otago Rail Trail run along the boundary

During bonspiels, curling teams sprawl out across the ice, the St Bathans Range making a stunning backdrop

The ice layer seemed fairly consistent and solid...

...but wasn't solid enough to withstand me!...

...and in fact wasn't solid at all on the far side of the dam. Unless the swan has skates on.

Around the corner further is the dam, originally constructed to irrigate local farms

The main buildings where presumably scores are kept and food is sold

A small locked shed contains rows and rows of skates

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