Sunday, 15 December 2013

Day 18, Stunning Countryside - Which Slowed Me Up A Little!

Friday morning started with a impromptu farm visit with Peter Mitchell who farms near Weston North West of Oamaru.  Peter runs a very interesting business spread over about 1,400 Ha of owned and leased land, as well as a bird seed business called Topflite which started back in the early 1980's.  The farm grows wheat, barley, sunflowers, canary grass, amongst other crops to add to the bird seed business.  The birdseed has really taken off and the team pride themselves on locally grown products, good quality and great service.  The team certainly looked in fine spirits wrapping Christmas presents for their biggest customers.  It's not with out it's challenges though, being located in the south Island with many customers in the North, good logistics is important to get produce delivered on time.  he farm runs on heavy clay with about 600mm of annual rainfall (varies 400-1000mm) although some irrigation is being installed through a community scheme, from the Waitaki river, with abstraction rates equivalent to 3mm/day.  The top of the farm has some breathtaking views across to the Kakanui Mountains.
After leaving Peter I headed along highway 83 heading towards Athol to meet up with my Nuffield 13 buddy Steve Wilkins and family.  What should have been a 4 hour drive took me nearly 6 hours, by the time I had stopped to take numerous photographs!  The view were absolutely stunning.  The sun was shining, the water was crystal clear and the rock out crops created a fantastic back drop for the journey.  I was staggered though to see lots of dairy's being installed along the side of the lakes, using plenty of water which in itself is not too much of a problem, but the winters must be quite challenging up here and the soils are very thin.  This can use more water and add to the potential of nitrate leaching ingot he aquifers. 
I make no apologies for the next photographs, which do not do justice to the tranquillity and beauty of the areas that I looked at.  No wonder it took so long to complete the 350km journey.  This is a shot of lake Aviemore, basking in the warm sunshine.  A lovely place for a return visit with a fishing rod and a camper van!
I had to stop for lunch along the way so a very New Zealand dish of mince and cheese pie, which was lovely, washed down with a pint of milk.
Onwards along the banks of the Ahuriri river which had wild lupins out in full flower.  The  scent from the flowers, streaming in through the open windows of the go cart was sensational.

I headed over the Lindis pass and the down along the Lindis river, and then turned west at Cromwell before shooting along highway 6 towards Queenstown.  This is the Kawarau Gorge where gold was discovered back in the 1860's.   
The road around Gibbston also had some amazing terraces with vineyards perched precariously on the small banks.  There were windmills all along the gorge, to keep the air moving in the winter to avoid frosting of the fruit.  It really was a great sight.  I imagine the wine produced tasted lovely, although no time to stop, on this occasion.
Destination reached late in the afternoon, Steve and Heather Wilkins who run Athol Valley Meats and have a fantastic farm shop The Veg Shed just in time to drop the luggage and head to the village shop  stroke pub to listen in on the organising committee for a charity fund raiser for the village school.  A cross country motocross event!  It was great to meet a few of the local residents and share a couple of beers after the long photographic session!

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