Several young men from across the island came to spend a weekend with a good friend of theirs here, who is attending our church now and is a good friend of our boys. They were discussing what to do with these young men when they came, and Simon came up with the idea of a four wheel drive trip. It was decided to go up to Big River, which had a thriving gold mine around 1900. Today it is a ghost town, with the old “poppet head” standing guard at the top of a mountain with tailings from the mine flowing down the slope below it. There is still gold in the mountain, and the company that our friend over here works for is exploring for the seams of gold to decide if they can justify mining for it. Anyway, by the time the day came, we had 41 people and 7 vehicles on the expedition. We met up at the beginning of the four wheel drive track that goes to the mine site. From that point, it is only 15 kilometers (not quite 10 miles), but it takes at least an hour and a half to drive it! Only a 4WD vehicle, preferably one that is jacked up a bit, can navigate that track, although one man in our party drove a ute, and made it through.
I really enjoyed watching the mist rising from the valleys between hills on our way to Reefton to start the drive. I rarely get away from home, and especially not so early in the morning. It was a perfect day to be out, the first clear day after a week or two of rain, and I thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of the morning.
This was on the way up the road to the start of the track. Simon was driving a friend’s Land Rover in front of us. I was in Simon’s Pajero, with Elijah driving.
We regrouped at the start of the track, when everyone had arrived. Two boys rode motorbikes up, although one of the bikes didn’t do very well and rode back on a ute. As you can see, it was quite frosty at this point–brr!
On the track!
We stopped briefly at this creek. There was a sign pointing to a historic mine, and a number of the boys explored a few tunnels. I walked on ahead, because I didn’t have gumboots and didn’t want to go through the mud.
We stopped again here, briefly, to fix a motorbike. Again, I walked on ahead until Elijah caught up. The closest truck here is the Pajero, with Elijah in the driver’s seat. Simon is standing next to it, in the blue coat, and Mr. Imagination to the far left in the photo.
Because we were the lead vehicles, we arrived at the end of the track first and waited for everyone else. They stopped to explore another mine, but we were just far enough ahead that we didn’t see them stop, so it took another 10 minutes or so before the other vehicles arrived. We enjoyed the sunshine and the scenery from the carpark halfway up the mountain, overlooking the former township of Big River. In this picture, Simon is sitting on the bonnet of the Land Rover.
Watching the other vehicles arrive.
Here they come! The second vehicle is what everyone calls the “Troopie.” It has bench seats facing each other in the back, troop carrier style. Simon’s boss owns it.
We all parked in the small parking area, and ate our picnic lunches in the sunshine.
Miss Joy and one of her friends found the mud!
This is the only house left in Big River. Apparently, an elderly lady lived in it until recently–although I don’t know how recently! People brought food in to her every week until she died.
Part of the view from a little higher up the hill from the carpark. There is a DOC hut up at the top, and the views are astounding!
I’ll post more pictures of the rest of our day, and a short video, another day. I have a lot to sort through!