There’s a range of good options if you want time out form Dunedin, one of the benefits of living here. I decided to head away for a few days.
The weather forecast wasn’t so good southwards so decided against Catlins (a range of beaches, waterfalls, forest and walks), Stewart Island or Fiordland, all within less than half a day drive.
I’d been throught Central Otago last week to Omakau (races) and St Bathans (Blue Lake) – this drive takes you from coast, hinterland to dry and rocky terrain past three mountain ranges in two hours – so decided against that.
I thought of a longer trip to Akaroa, but decided to keep it shorter.
So we left Dunedin heading north for about an hour and then hung a left inland just before Oamaru, through some interesting countryside with scattered limestone features. We didn’t bother stopping at Elephant Rocks this time becasue we’d spent time there last time through, but it’s well worth some time especially with children.
Witihin an hour we stopped at Kurow, on the Waitaki river before the dams. There’s not a lot to do here except fishing, but we wanted to have lunch and wine tasting at Pasquale - great food and drink, plus very good service with excellent wine knowledge.
After that we wanted to stay the night. The motel is as dated as they come but the accommodation options are limited. However the pub steak meal at Kurow Hotel was a s good and as big as they get.
This morning we headed up river where you soon encounter the dams and lakes, first the smallest and oldest, Waitaki. Next Aviemore. Then we stopped in at Benmore and walked across and back. It’s still an impressive dam.
Then we headed up further to Omarama in time for a very long lunch at LadyBird Hill. There’s plenty to do to fill in a mostly leisurely afternoon. The one thing we skipped was catching a salmon from their stocked pond and waiting for them to smoke it and serve it. We did have their salmon lunch though, too much to eat.
We headed uphill on their walk to settle the food down and take in the mountain views which even from Omarama are spectactular. While we were climbing a procession of gliders and their tow planes took off from the airport and were let loose at a good thermal, where at one stage we saw a dozen gliders spiraling up into the blue sky (it was clear and hot but with a nice cooling breeze).
Then we went back down and did a wine tasting – they have small quantity wine options which have to be considered with the recent law changes but we were traveling on foot so it didn’t matter.
Several hours later we mooched back to a much better motel. Here we had to decide what to do next.
The weather looks probbaly good enough so tomorrow we’ll go to Mt Cook, about an hour’s drive along the shore of Lake Pukaki. We’ll spend the day there, probably doing the walk to the Tasman Glacier terminal lake.
Because high season rates are so high we decided to book the night at Lake Tekapo, about an hour’s drive. What we do there and afterwards we’ll decide when we get there. I’d love to do an astronomy tour but will leave that until winter. It doesn’t get dark properly here until about 11 pm at this time of year.
This is all three days in easy reach of Dunedin, and is just one of several very contrasting options available for an excursion.
We live in a very nice part of a very nice country. How many places in the world would have such a range of options so handy?