Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

Image of goldfieldsodyssey13.gif
We flew down from Auckland or various other parts of the country to arrive in Dunedin on 29 December, and after picking up our rental van from the airport we checked into the Chalet Backpackers BBH hostel, just a short walk from the Octagon. That evening we went out to Port Chalmers and enjoyed a yummy meal of fish and chips.
Image of dscf0007.jpg Image of dscf0005.jpg

The next day we went on the Taieri Gorge Railway train to Middlemarch. The train left the Dunedin station and raced across the plains to the spectacular Taieri Gorge. There were plenty of tunnels, bridges and viaducts to go through or cross. We had a brief stop near a house whose access was from the railway only; there were no roads in the area. We went as far as Middlemarch before returning to Dunedin.
Image of dscf0043.jpg Image of dscf0042.jpg

The following morning dawned beautiful and sunny, ideal for a drive out to the Otago Peninsula. We had a look at the Glenfalloch gardens before carrying on to the albatross colony at Taiaroa Head. There were wartime fortifications and tunnels to be seen, including a disappearing gun built in 1886 for a possible Russian attack.
Image of dscf0080.jpg Image of dscf0095.jpg

We went on to Ellens Beach for a beach walk before doing the Sandy Mount Walkway where we could see the chasm beside Lovers Leap.
Image of dscf0150.jpg Image of dscf0165.jpg

Our group celebrated New Year by dining out at a restaurant before going into the Octagon and viewing the fireworks as Auld Lang Syne welcomed in 2013.
Image of dscf0173.jpg Image of dscf0198.jpg

We marked the first day of 2013 by visiting Baldwin St, said to be the steepest street in the world with a gradient of 1 in 2.56. A local man was seen to do his daily exercise routine by going up and down this several times. Afterwards we went to Tunnel Beach, accessed at low tide by a man-made tunnel dating from 1870. The rocks showed some amazing colours. That evening we went out to Nugget Point to see the seals on the rocks, and yellow-eyed penguins drying off after theiur day in the water before retiring to their nests for the night.
Image of dscf0067.jpg Image of dscf0207.jpg

The Cadbury chocolate factory was well worth a visit. Unfortunately taking photos inside the factory itself was strictly taboo - all cameras, bags, cellphones and jewellery had to be minded in secure lockers, and we were given hair nets and beard covers to wear. We could see the chocolate being made and moulded into the various Cadbury products. There was plenty to see and take photos of outside the actual factory.
Image of dscf0052.jpg Image of dscf0058.jpg

Our tour of the Catlins began with Pounawea, where we went on a walk through farm and bush. We went on to Owaka and checked into a backpacker hostel, and Andrew enjoyed a massage from a foreign lady who was staying there. There was plenty to see in the Catlins - the Pain Falls, plenty of native trees, manuka trees in full flower.

Image of dscf0259.jpg Image of dscf0264.jpg

We did a walk to Slope Point, the southernmost point of the South Island, and had to put up with a fierce wind. Curio Bay was very interesting - there was a forest that had been fossilised by volcanic activity. Petrified tree trunks and branches were seen both in their original standing position and fallen to the ground. Close to Curio Bay was Porpoise Bay where we could see the Hectors dolphins coming in. some of the trees were amazing - there was discussion as to whether some of the trees were rata trees. Our Catlins tour finished with Kaka Point. At this point Eileen left to go back to Auckland.
Image of dscf0362.jpg Image of dscf0405.jpg

It was now time to head inland to have a look at the central Otago goldfields. From Balclutha we went to Lawrence which we found was not a good place to buy a coffee. The first of our goldfield walks was at Gabriels Gully near Lawrence. There were plenty of amazing plants to seem as well as relics form the gold mining days, as we did a two hour walk on a sweltering hot afternoon.
Image of dscf0497.jpg Image of dscf0491.jpg

We carried on to Roxburgh where we did the 1½ hour 4km Grovers Hill walk. This went up to the top of the hill before going around it to follow the bank of the Clutha River.
Image of dscf0499.jpg Image of dscf0503.jpg

The final week of our trip was based at the Alexandra Holiday park, where we had a house named Matti to ourselves. This unit had four bunkrooms, and a spacious lounge and dining area with kitchen.

We did a walk on the Doctors Point walkway long the Clutha River southwards from Alexandra. There were plenty of goldmining relics to be seen, and a most amazing fragrance of wild thyme in the air. We could see across the river a new cycle trail being built. When we reached Butchers Point we decided to turn back, as the track became more rough past this point.
Image of dscf0532.jpg Image of dscf0536.jpg

Next day we went to Bannockburn near Cromwell. As we walked around this goldfields reserve we learned about the tough life the miners had to endure, and the fantastic ingenuity shown in where to find the gold.
Image of dscf0569.jpg Image of dscf0576.jpg

That night John joined up with group, having had Christmas in Tauranga and done several things on the way including driving a golf cart on the old railway from Taumarunui to Stratford, walking through part of Tully Reserve at Paraparaumu, visiting Somes Island in Wellington Harbour, and seeing the sorry sights of the Christchurch Red Zone on a bus tour.

While in Alexandra we would have devotions at our unit after dinner, taken by Beulah, a Bible teacher. She was sharing about lesser-known friends of Paul mentioned in the book of Acts and his letters, and this time she chose Nympha. Nympha had opened up her home and let the church meet there, helping to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ in a hostile environment. God had timed the coming of Jesus to when the Romans had built roads to allow the spreading of the gospel. Barriers between rich and poor were broken down in Nympha’s home.    

The following day, Wed 9 Jan, we focussed on the Maniatoto region. Our first port of call was St Bathans where we were greeted by a cold howling wind. We did the Blue Lake loop track at the south side of the lake. This was a spectacular 2km walk with views of the lake and going past old sluicings and the remnants of the goldmining equipment that was used here - machinery that literally converted Kildare Hill into a lake. After visiting the historic Vulcan Hotel drinking clinic, we went on to Naseby intending to do a walk in the Naseby Forest. However the heavens opened up, and we ended up having a look at the old post office and the museum, and also had a look at an indoor curling rink. This sport is popular in Central Otago especially in winter when lakes and ponds get frozen over. It is a form of bowls using 20kg weights or “rocks” on an ice surface. Sweeping the ice with a broom ahead of the rock allows the rock to travel a bit faster. he weather cleared as we went through Omakau to have a look at the historic township of Ophir. We parked across the historic Ophir bridge, and walked back to have a look at the old post office, jail, courthouse and cottages.

Image of naseby 033.jpg Image of naseby 067.jpg
Image of naseby 146.jpg Image of naseby 216.jpg

That night after dinner Beulah told us about Jason. Paul went to the synagogues to preach Christ to the Jews, and after three Sabbaths (Saturdays) the Jews kicked them out. Jason became a believer as a result, and opened up his home to teach and nurture fellow believers and provide refuge for Paul, Silas and Timothy. Paul had shown people how to bring others into God’s kingdom by showing love. The number of believers in Thessalonica grew quickly. Jason was arrested when the authorities could locate neither Paul nor Silas, and was made to post bail.  

We had a go at the Millennium Walkway between Clyde and Alexandra next day, splitting into two groups with the van left at Clyde and drivers swapping keys when the groups crossed. The group walking from Alexandra soon found the track was flooded by the Clutha River swollen by the previous day’s heavy rains in the Otago catchments. They were having to wade up to thigh deep and were forced to abandon the track and follow the roads. Andrew sent text messages to the other group, who started at Clyde and found the track straightforward so far. The two groups met up at McPherson Rd outside the driveway to the winery at 11:25am. The other group  carried on and when they rejoined the walkway near Alexandra they found themselves wading up to their knees in places.
Image of alexandra 056.jpg Image of alexandra 085.jpg

For devotions that evening Beulah chose the theme of man and woman, and this turned into an interesting one hour Bible study. All people are equal in Christ regardless of gender (Galatians 3:28), man and woman are not independent of each other (I Corinthians 11:11-12) and God created humans in His own image, male and female (Genesis 1:27). In the Old Testament Miriam was a prophetess and a church co-leader, Deborah was a married woman and prophet, and Huldah was a prophet. Only men were priests. In the New Testament we are all priests under Jesus Christ, who is the only priest between God and humans. Acts 2:17-18 (story of Pentecost) Your sons and daughters will prophesy. When Jesus was growing up He took advice and instructions from his mother Mary. Romans 16 has a long list of female leaders.

Next day, Friday 11, we went to the Bendigo Goldfields Reserve, off the Cromwell-Tarras highway, and parked at the site of what was once Logantown. Two choices were offered for the day’s tramping - Alex, Andrew, Barbara, June, and Katherine did the longer Kanuka Loop Track while Charlie, Joy, Beulah, and John opted for an easier option exploring some of the relics from the gold mining days. There were plenty of mining relics to see, including shafts, cottages and the remains of the Pengally Hotel, a favourite drinking clinic for the gold miners.
Image of bendigo 040.jpg Image of bendigo 069.jpg

For our devotions that night Beulah spoke on husbands and wives, again a discussion-provoking hour-long Bible study. She said that before she was widowed she had made decisions together with her husband, but in many situations the wife has to make an independent decision. In Ephesians 5:21-33 husbands and wives need to work together, submit to each other and act self-sacrificially. Afterwards John went on a twilight walk and noticed the river level had dropped considerably. When he returned an hour later Alex was still discussing issues of husbands and wives with Beulah.

Our final full day was a trip up the Old Man Range. It was a challenge for Charlie at the wheel as we climbed the Old Man Range along a clay road through the Obelisk sheep station. We made it to 394m asl, about ¾ way up the range, at 10:15am before parking the van and donning jumpers and wind jackets to brave the fierce cold wind. It was rather a long slog as we continued on foot up to the junction on the summit ridge. We reached the junction after 45 minutes for a break and look around, then we carried on to the Obelisk (a tall rock outcrop) in just 45 minutes, passing numerous smaller outcrops on the way. We arrived at the summit about 12 noon, and had a look at the view. We left the Obelisk returning the way we came, and with a tail wind most of the way made it to the van at 1:10pm. The van was a welcome shelter to have our lunch, after which we drove down the range, and stopped for a coffee at Speargrass Inn before returning to Alexandra.
Image of old man range 037.jpg Image of old man range 088.jpg

We had our end-of-trip dinner at Monteiths restaurant. There was a wide choice of dishes to choose from for mains and desserts. We had been invited to write on cards for Barbara to thank her for all her hard work, and for Andrew having a birthday in two days’ time, and these were presented to them. Barbara told us how she really appreciated being together with people she knew and exploring an interesting part of the country. Afterwards we drove up to the lookout above the big clock to get views of Alexandra in the pleasant cloudy twilight weather, no indication of what we would have next morning.
Image of restaurant 006.jpg Image of restaurant 046.jpg

On Sunday 13 we were all up by 6am to the music of heavy rain and thunder, most of us having almost completely packed our bags the night before. At 7am Andrew took Alex, Charlie, Beulah and Katherine to Clyde to meet up with the group who would be cycling the Central Otago Rail Trail before returning to take the rest of us to Dunedin Airport. The rain and thunder had given way to dry weather as soon as we reached Roxburgh.