NZ 2013: Second week

18 02 2013

W2 16/1-22/1 A quick statistical summary
71 finds, 55 trad, 2 multi, 11 mystery, 3 earthcaches

After finding three of the oldest caches on the South Island in the Invercargill area I spent the remainder of the day ticking off a few caches at random just to fill time and do some sightseeing in the town before the next day’s drive via Slope Point , the southernmost cache on the NZ mainland

The view over Slope Point

The view over Slope Point

and Table Hill , one of the oldest NZ caches, then through the Catlins and on to Dunedin. I made a less than half-hearted attempt to find the cache at Table Hill in 2006 but didn’t feel like bush bashing in sandals and shorts. This time I had long trousers but hadn’t replaced the sandals with anything more substantial. It wasn’t needed either. The terrain wasn’t as bad as expected once I left the road and not having hiking boots on made crossing the stream a splash. 🙂

Nevertheless, it took some time to find the cache, which actually consisted of two large containers, even though a ten meter circle was trampled into the undergrowth around ground zero. Of course, once I saw the cache I couldn’t understand how I could have not spotted it right away.

Table Hill vegetation near GZ

Table Hill vegetation near GZ

The cache(s) at Table Hill

The cache(s) at Table Hill

The trip on to Dunedin took me through a couple of small villages where local people had created their own form of museums

Teapot Land!

Teapot Land in Owaka near Balclutha.

and the town of Balclutha (a rather run down place unfortunately) and on to a very interesting earthcache called Tohora Tahuhu. Fossils of whales found several kilometers from the present day coast and a couple of hundred meters above sea level were witness to the changes that have occured here over the past 60 million years!

Whale fossil earthcache

Whale fossil earthcache

In Dunedin I hunted and found the remaining two of the oldest geocaches on the South Island. The first one Botanical Gardens I had searched for in 2007 but couldn’t find. The funny thing was that the owner, Donovan (now Nemesis) had great difficulties finding it himself just a few weeks later on.

The Cache at Botanical Gardens

The Cache at Botanical Gardens

Donovan's (now  Nemesis) log after my last attempt

Donovan’s (now Nemesis) log after my last attempt

The final old cache Flagstaff Hill was on a pleasant walk up the hill of the same name. This is where the “fun” started. I had intended to do Old School Challenge but that was not to be. A comedy of errors is what ensued. Finding the final old cache was easy as it was another big bucket in easy terrain.

FlagstaffHill

The cache at Flagstaff Hill

I had printed a map from Mapsource with the “Free Open GPS TOP ADDON” which gives great topo information. However, some of the tracks on the “Free Open GPS NZ Autorouting” map disappear. When I found Flagstaff Hill and decided to go for the Old School Challenge I discovered that the coords were not in my GPS (I don’t copy unsolved mystery coordinates to my GPS) so I had to go back down to the car and upload them. By now a sea mist had rolled in over the hills and visibilty was down to less than 50 meters. Anyway, the cache was on a track, the map of which I discovered when I was up the hill again, was no longer in my pocket. What to do? Walk along the track until I find the cache. Got another 500m and found a fork in the track. After a few hundred meters the direction was obviously wrong so back to the junction and take the other track.

I was getting closer, but no closer than 200 meters and just flax bushes and boggy ground in front of me. It must be the other track! So off I went again and ended up near the Ben Rudds Hut. Definitely not right. What to do in the mist? Go back on the trail I came up on? Go on as my GPS was now showing that I was on the Jim Thompson track? By now I realised I wasn’t going to find the cache so the choice was easy. Go on, so I could see some new scenery on the way back to the car. When I got back to the car I had walked 12 km for what should really just have been a 4 or 5 km walk up the hill and back. Some times you win, some times you lose.

Mist rolling in over Flagstaff Hill

Mist rolling in over Flagstaff Hill

From there on the day improved as I decided to carry on towards Oamaru via Mossgiel, Middlemarch, Ranfurly and Danzies Pass. I had travelled on the Taeri Gorge railway a couple of years ago and last year I was in the Middlemarch area to find the old cache at Sutton Salt Lake. See my post.

From Ranfurly I made a detour up to St. Bathans. This fascinating place is a reminder of the Otago gold rush in the 1860’s. A fascinating place, but as my goal for the evening was to reach Oamaru I didn’t stay too long. Dusk was falling as I drove through Danzies Pass. The views were magnificent in the failing light. It wasn’t a road I would have liked to take on a dark rainy night though.

Hotel at St. Bathans

Hotel at St. Bathans

Remains of gold mining at St. Bathans

Remains of gold mining at St. Bathans

It was late when I reached Oamaru and the restaurant adjoining the motel was closed so I drove into town and found a Chinese takeaway that was open. Luxury! My first food since breakfast.

The day after I did some sightseeing in town. The town of Oamaru is famous for it’s white limestone buildings and after many years of neglect it’s great to see that there is a concerted effort to clean the buildings and bring life back into the old warehouse area. It was impossible to miss the Steampunk activities in the town. Great fun!

Oamaru limestone buildings

Oamaru limestone buildings

Oamaru limestone buildings in wharf area

Oamaru limestone buildings in wharf area

Oamaru limestone buildings

Oamaru limestone buildings

Steampunk in Oamaru

Steampunk in Oamaru

Steampunk in Oamaru

Steampunk in Oamaru

Steampunk locomotive

Steampunk locomotive

Steampunk exhibit

Steampunk exhibit

Travelling back to Christchurch from Oamaru was done through a little town called Waimate. It’s about 6km off highway 1 and as a consequence I am sure it’s forgotten or unknown to most travellers on their north-south journey down the east coast of the South Island. Last year when I was driving up from Dunedin I turned off just out of curiosity. This year I made a conscious decision to visit the same coffee shop there as it was rather unusual. It’s run by three Japanese guys and as well as excellent coffee you are treated to the local newspaper or a set of sketch books that one of them cas created around visiting customers and a free sweetbread to the coffee. The visit is rounded off with a cup of Japanese green tea. For those of you who have never been to Japan, it may seem a little strange but as a regular visit there I felt right at home. I can recommend a visit.

ARTrio cafe in Waimato

ARTrio cafe in Waimato

Once back in Christchurch I decided to spend a leisurely day couple of days without too much caching. Of the roughly thirty caches that I found a dozen were mysteries. Most of my transport was by car but I had an enjoyable walk in the area along the Otakaikino River.

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