Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Karamea to Murchison

We stayed the night in Karamea and enjoyed dinner at the pub. Ian was extremely adventurous and tried wild pig in a watercress broth which he said was delicious. It certainly was different and the stay at the pub was unique!
In the morning we went to the Zig Zag Track walk but unfortunately the track about half way up was blocked by a fallen tree just as we had prepared ourselves for a fantastic view. Nevertheless we did get some great shots from half way up the track. The countryside here has to be seen to be believed, everything is so lush and the cows and sheep certainly don’t have to go very far to graze, looking very contented.
After Karamea we drove on to Murchison and then planned to drive through to Nelson. However our plans were derailed after lunch when we found ourselves sitting in the longest traffic jam resulting from a very nasty accident somewhere on the road ahead. After two helicopters landed and we were told by a member of the NZ constabulary that we could expect a further delay of at least one hour on top of the hour we had already been sitting we decided to return to Murchison for the night.
It was fortunate that we did as we discovered a fantastic walk to the Six Mile Power Scheme which closed in November 1975 after nearly 54 years of operation.
In 1921 the Murchison City Council raised a loan of 12,000 pounds to provide a hydro electric scheme to supply light and power to Murchison Township, Six Mile Valley and Four River Plain. Construction proceeded through 1921. Pipes from a nearby sluicing claim were brought to the penstock and other materials (shingle, cement, steel) arrived by horse drawn dray or wagon. The first truck in the district was used to deliver parts of the plant.
The Country Chairman placed a notice in the Murchison Standard which read:
The residents of Murchison County are officially invited to be present at the Six Mile Creek on Wednesday the 25th instant at 1.30pm. The occasion being the official opening of the hydro electric development scheme. It is intended to hold a public picnic before the actual opening ceremony and the council will provide only hot water, tea, sugar and milk for the council’s official guests.
At least everyone knew where they stood!
It was a beautiful walk and we marvelled at the expertise that brought this scheme to the area and wondered why they have stopped using this wonderful way to provide power without the environmental issues we have today.

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