A long way to go to church

I’m not sure when I learnt of it, or when the desire set in, but I have wanted to visit the Serpentine Church for many years. It was the highest church [about 1030 metres] in New Zealand, and is situated in a snow tussock basin 90 mins. drive south of the Old Dunstan Rd. or between Poolburn Dam and Lake Onslow The road is only open for a few months of the year, and is only easily negotiable, with no harm to the environment, when it’s dry.

A plan for a landscape photography expedition was hatched with my good friend Roger, and it deemed we approach via the Ida Valley and Poolburn Dam [thanks to advice from Gilbert of Clean Green Images], using my favourite route: The Old Dunstan Road.

Poolburn Dam is host to many Kiwi cribs and batches…
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Owner of one batch, Dick, shows off his day’s work…
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We were enthralled by the weather…
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It was a stunning evening for 4wd travel and we stopped often to enjoy the landscape and make some images…
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The local farmer is obviously a skilled metal worker…
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One of many stops to take in the immensity of the landscape…
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There is no way you can hurry on this track though, and we barely made it to catch the best light we’ve seen for many years…
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Around midnight we finally finished the photo shoot, and here Roger examines the fruits of his labours now on his laptop…
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I slept a troubled sleep though: there was something about this place I found very odd, and on discussing it with Roger, he felt the same. We certainly noted, that unlike other historic gold mining sites in Central Otago, there is just no evidence of other buildings – just a church literally in the middle of no where!

Dawn saw us under different weather…
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From the the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust web site: “The church was built at the forlorn site of the Serpentine Goldmine. The Serpentine Union church opened in July 1873, the minister was late attending and by the time he arrived the miners gathered had already been down to the hotel for refreshments and had been drinking heavily. After the first hymn was sung the miners in their drunken state demanded an encore, the minister was not impressed, he cut short the service and said that he would never return there for another service. It was later sold to a couple of miners, and has recently been restored by the Department of Conservation”

http://www.nzsouth.co.nz/goldfields/dunstrai.html


With rain threatening we thought it wise to get up on the tops again, rather than grapple with extreme four wheel driving on a wet and slippery track…
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A rabbiter’s hut – two bunks, probably constructed in the 1940s, and still in mint condition…
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On the roof again to get a photography perspective that shows the hut in the context of the immense landscape…
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Back at Poolburn, and on a better road in the wet, we had a nine to noon snooze to catch up, and awoke to yet more stunning weather events…
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And on down to the Ida Valley and refreshing rain…
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Thanks Roger and Mylee for yet another memorable adventure

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Merry Christmas dear readers

About this Like Minds Blog Donald Lousley