Out in the Hills

Every now and then I have a desperate urge to get away from almost all civilization and head to some remote spot to just chill out.  The valley between Mt St Bathans and the Hawkdun Range is that place for me.    

A large part now encompasses the Oteake Conservation Park, with Homestead Camp up near the end of the Hawkdun Runs road being a good place for base camp. 

With weather looking acceptable for a couple of days in the Maniototo area I hitched up my little snail camper, gathered up my dog and camera gear (no intention to paint although there was a bit of art stuff in the back just in case!) and headed off to a peaceful retreat...or so I thought.

First hiccup...on arrival at the beginning of the track to the camping area....did that look like a bit of rain in them there hills???? Oh well...part of the adventure.

The grader had just been over the road and I was the first to make new tracks...I fully expected to meet him coming back out....I did not expect halfway through setting up camp a man hollering at me!!! The grader had had a mishap and was stuck down in the river! Apparently he had snagged the roller on the back and given himself a puncture, or something along those lines. The driver was walking to find cell phone reception to summon help. There is not a single bar of reception up there...which to me..is part of the charm. I offered to drive him a few kilometres back down the track to somewhere he could make a call...I know the spot where it is as on reaching it, my phone pings a million times with all the notifications come in!!

All was sorted so we headed back to the wilderness for me to finish setting up camp and for him to ponder the rare chance of actually incapacitating his grader in the middle of nowhere...right on knock off time. Later in the dark, another grader came trundling down the road, full lights blazing to rescue him from the river. 

And did I mention all this time there was a misty wetting rain? You know...the sort that gets everything just damp and uncomfortable?

The next day dawned with more promise but still a bit of the misty rain keeping everything sticky.

I decided to head off down the valley to drive to Ranfurly to get a couple of provisions and real coffee... the road had turned into a slick and greasy track in a couple of areas which created an adventure for sure. Even with 4wd engaged I was sliding and fishtailing. The trick is to go slow and steady so there was no falling/sliding off the road!! Just a tiny nag in the back of my mind that if this misty stuff kept up would I be stranded? Hence I got extra provisions...just in case. Being stranded didn't bother me...fasting for a week? Not so keen! 

Early afternoon the clouds did start to clear and it was looking promising for some good photos a little later on. 

I decided to go for a bit of a walk up one of the hills behind the camp, but as I headed off a farm utility towing a horse float turned up. This was intriguing, were they going to wander up the valley further on horseback, roads being a bit slippery and all? No... they were going to muster the farm block across the road. I watched them as they disappeared over the brow with their pack of dogs. Not to see them again until once again on dusk the peace was disturbed as a large mob of sheep turned up at the old yards alongside the camp.

That's okay I thought, just holding them over night before taking them further into the hills for summer. Nope, disturbed just as the sun was peeping over the mountain. The farmer rattling in with his dogs to do something in the yards with them! So much for undisturbed peace in the remoteness!

Once again I trundled out, mainly to check the road to see how it was, obviously passable as how would the farmer get there otherwise? He did have much more grunty knobby tyres than me though...

I met him on the way back in just putting the sheep into another block for grazing.


However, despite the intrusion to my peace, the previous evening did allow some lovely views of the Hawkdun range as the sun broke through the clouds.

This is why I love it there, the stunning light show put on as the sun sinks behind you. Just fabulous!

Morning light too was glorious...deep shadow and golden light!

Even the cursed wildling pines were photogenic in the morning light. Hopefully DOC will come do something about them soon. Such a scourge on the landscape. 


My plan had been to come home Friday but with the weather improving and the road drying I decided to escape that afternoon. Plus...long weekend coming up with the late Queen's memorial day on the Monday, it was time to come home and get my gallery open!

Despite all the drama I did manage a few photos...it is such a beautiful peaceful place with normally just the sounds of nature!

This time not so much haha!  


    I OMITTED to tell you I want to make 3 figures 91now this environment will
    not help I need famiy and encouragement will be able to walk with my stick soon DAD

  • I need some longterm help you are all I have short of going to OZ do not
    want to be here TO ME its terrible in nelson the hospital put me here THE
    one difference now i have a new companion she is your age should be with me by Xmas I don’t want to be here then I am seeing things that make me wonder what am I doing here love DAD spoken to SAM

  • Received a piece of your work as a gift from my son. Billy Boys at Lake Wakatipu.2021. Love it! Can’t wait to get another.

    Louise Timlin

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