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To Queenstown via the Old Dunstan Road

Summer 12/13 roadie, day 4, part 1

From Cardrona we were driving to Queenstown. This wasn’t far as the crow flies – not that New Zealand has crows but I’m sure any bird will suffice – but for once we had time up our sleeves and it was the perfect opportunity to delve into the Central Otago countryside. I’ve banged on before about loving this region of the country and this time we were able to head a bit further off the beaten track. Queenstown could wait until later.

Crown Range Road

Initially we needed to get to Alexandra, south-east of Queenstown. To get there it was a toss-up between going north back to Wanaka and then down, or carrying on through the Crown Range Road. We chose that.

Crown Range Road

Russell Lupins, Crown Range Road

LOVED all these beautiful flowers – or ‘aggressive weeds’ as the case may be

Off the beaten path

Beyond Alexandra we silenced the satnav as it was of no help and reverted to printed maps – how old school! We turned into a paved road which became a metal (gravel) road and started to wind up and over hills into the Ida Valley.

Brown landscape and fence, Central Otago

Central Otago metal road

The Raggedy Range I think. One of those vistas I love around these parts

The Raggedy Range I think. One of those vistas I love around these parts

Central Otago metal road

Driver, turn right!

Driver, turn right!

Old Dunstan Road

The main goal of the day was to drive up the Old Dunstan Road to the Poolburn Dam. The road was part of the original route called the Mountain Road taken by hardy people seeking their goldrush fortunes in the early 1860s. It was later superseded by a longer but lower-lying route known as the ‘Pigroot’.

Closed for about four months each winter, the Old Dunstan Road is best traversed with a 4 wheel drive vehicle. But we were going to see how far we could get with Mike’s 2WD car!

Old Dunstan Rd sign

The bullet holes add a certain charm

We followed the road up the North Rough Ridge, gawping at the landscape which typifies this region: schist tors and rocky outcrops peppered liberally across miles of brown grass. We were so happy to be here and tore around trying to capture the look and feel in a few simple snaps.

Stalking my next photo

Stalking my next photo

Central Otago schist

Around here the land is covered in schist rock – very dramatic and beautiful; but impossible to do anything productive with I’m sure!

Central Otago schist

Mike
Us

-

Mike had set a self-timer photo but before he could run over the camera fell – so he picked it up and I improvised

Poolburn Dam

We made it intact to the Poolburn Dam. Not knowing what to expect we were fairly amazed at the sight that unfolded before us, but as there are a few photos (noo, really?) I’ll cover that in the next post.

Moa Creek

From Poolburn the Old Dunstan Road continues over the other side, but that seemed to really be for 4WDs so we decided not to push our luck. We’ll return another day with more suitable wheels! We returned the way we came, past the remains of the Moa Creek settlement established as a rest stop along the old route.

Old bus shelter at Moa Creek

Old bus shelter at Moa Creek

And this old girl

And this old girl

Moa Creek Hotel site

Part of the old Moa Creek Hotel site, today back in business as accommodation. Don’t be fooled by appearances, it sounds like a great place to stay

Ophir

We drove over the Raggedy Range again, but further north this time and popped out in the little settlement of Ophir. A very very quiet place on our previous couple of visits, it actually had a bit more life to it this time thanks to the opening of a shop and a cafe. We drove through though, only stopping at the historic bridge on the way out to join the main road.

The iconic Daniel O’Connell suspension bridge

The iconic Daniel O’Connell suspension bridge

Playtime at the Manuherikia River

Playtime at the Manuherikia River

Gibbston Valley

We now headed straight for Queenstown.

The road runs through the Gibbston Valley, a prominent wine region in these parts

The road runs through the Gibbston Valley, a prominent wine region in these parts

Queenstown

It was late afternoon by the time we rolled into Queenstown. After checking into our accommodation, a short distance away in Arthur’s Point (quite a cool area, I’ll pick that up in a separate post), we shot back into town to visit one of Mike’s favourite shops, Quest. Then there was just enough time to say hi to the lakefront and go for a quick walk before meeting friends for dinner.

Mike

Lake Wakatipu

Among other things, we wanted to find out what the plans were for New Years Eve the following night. A 70s party boat?

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11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Great photos, Hayley — Wow, bullet holes in a sign. That seems strange. I love the bridge images. Cheers, Steph

    25 January 2013
    • Thanks : ) … And thankfully not too many signs here have been shot at (only some!).

      25 January 2013
  2. great pictures Hayley

    25 January 2013
  3. Hayley, like those wild lupins a lot. Did not know N.Z. had no crows, really? Kerala is full of them – we even have a sort of semi tame one who likes to drink water from our terrace fountain.

    26 January 2013
    • Thanks, yes I was amazed when we drove by fields of them. So pretty. I believe we have a variety of rook in a few regions, considered to be a pest which has led to reducing numbers of them. I couldn’t tell you the last time I knowingly saw or heard one. Must be quite neat to have a sort of a pet crow!

      26 January 2013
  4. Great road trip with awesome photos!

    16 February 2013
    • Thanks very much – and one day I will get round to finishing the series!

      16 February 2013
  5. Janice Strong #

    Really enjoyed this blog Hayley so interesting have visited the SI a number of times but missed this spot. As always you provided such amazing information and history of the area. Fantastic photos. Thanks so much. Janice xxx

    20 February 2013
    • You always have the loveliest comments Janice, thank you.

      20 February 2013

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  1. Poolburn Dam, Central Otago « tall tales | a travel blog

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