Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> Otago, Southland, Fiordland (New Zealand)

Glenorchy + the Invincible Mine

Mt Earnslaw from Glenorchy
After we settled in to the Glenorchy Hotel we had drinks and dinner in the bar, looking out at the splendid view of Mt Earnslaw to the north. The washing machine delayed us by getting stuck on deep rinse.

When we finally started the Glenorchy Town Walkway it was dusk and there were midges swarming. They didn't bite and didn't worry me, but they did disturb Camilla - I'm not sure she'd really make an entomologist. The boardwalk runs through wetlands, which were teeming with swans and ducks. After night fell, we got to see a nearly full moon rise, which was rather atmospheric.

On our way back we saw a convoy of cars leaving the pubs - farmers going back to their farms, we thought.

Sunday 16th February

From Glenorchy one can head west, to the starting points for the Routeburn, Caples or Greenstone tracks, or north, to the Rees-Dart walk, which goes all the way around Mt Earnslaw. We only had one morning, unfortunately - we had to be in Twizel that evening - and I picked the Invincible Mine as a daywalk: the mine sounded interesting and the walk would also bring us closer to Mt Earnslaw. I picked up the pamphlet on the mine and walk from the DOC office while Camilla was packing.

But first we had breakfast in next door cafe. There were quite a lot of people around - heading out to or returning from the walks mentioned above, perhaps, or going jet-boating on the Dart River. But overall Glenorchy (population 200) didn't seem to have lost its agricultural foundations in the tourist scramble: there was a horse in the field opposite the hotel and the town was clearly a farming service centre. I thought it was a much nicer place to stay than Queenstown.

The Rees Valley road winds along the east bank of the river, through sheep farms. We stopped at one point for a couple on a tractor driving a score of sheep - horned merino rams - along the road towards us. At a word their dog raced them past us, too fast for me to get a good shot with the camera.

Before starting the walk we drove a kilometre further to look at the concentrator. The mine track - road, actually - climbed steadily up the hillside, but it was comfortable walking, mostly under cover. There were great views as we climbed - looking up the Rees River valley to Mt Earnslaw and the Forbes Mountains, and looking down river towards Glenorchy and the Humboldt Mountains.

the Rees River and Humboldt Mountains

refurbished mine machinery

Invincible Creek

a spider web
At the mine itself we inspected the machinery, some of which is being restored, and then had lunch. Camilla started sunbathing topless [no pictures, sorry!], but after I reported flies biting me that was rapidly aborted. We walked on a few hundred metres to Invincible Creek before coming back to look at the mine opening (locked) and some tailing mounds.

We then drove back to Queenstown, stopping only to photograph some sheep and a bridge named "Unnamed". Lunch was Thai in a food court - Queenstown is expensive, and it took us a while to find somewhere reasonably priced. Then Camilla bought the sleeping bag she'd looked at the day before (she had it shipped back to Australia) while I did a supermarket top up. We filled up on petrol and headed off - our road maps being pitiful, we ended up taking the round-about route via Arrowtown.

clay cliffs near Omarama
It was a warm day and Camilla was sleepy, so she dozed while I drove through the Kawarau Gorge. We stopped at Lindis Pass to look at the view, but we almost couldn't start again, with the wheels spinning in gravel. And we stopped again to look at clay cliffs near Omarama (we just photographed them from the highway, we didn't visit them).

We got into Twizel nice and early, leaving time for a relaxed dinner - a plate with vegetables and two huge lamb shanks, which the two of us only just managed to finish.

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