Kawarau Station’s historic stone woolshed will again provide the backdrop for a screening of early film footage from Otago and Southland.
The return of Reel Life in Rural New Zealand was initiated by organisers of the Across the Bridge at Bannockburn event being held from September 28 to October 2. The 75 minute programme features farming history, kiwi inventions and interviews with Otago identities from 1913 to 2007.
It was put together in a partnership between by Nga Taonga Sound and Vision -New Zealand’s film archive - and Heritage New Zealand.
Richard Anderson of Kawarau Station said about 230 people attended the first screening of the footage held in February this year. The woolshed, which was built around 1860 is still used for shearing the station’s 9000 merino sheep. It originally had 20 stands for blade shearers, Mr Anderson said, and electric shearing machines were installed in 1935 when powerlines reached the valley. The family also run 200 beef cattle on Kawarau’s 20,000 acres.
Jan Hawkins, one of the Across the Bridge at Bannockburn organisers, said many people had requested a repeat of the films after the February screenings. A matinee and evening showing will be held on Wednesday, September 28, as the first of a range of cultural events at Bannockburn’s fifth annual festival.
Owen Marshall, master of the short story, poet Brian Turner and non-fiction writer Mary Hobbs would provide the literary inspiration for the event, she said.
The trio will give readings at the Bannockburn Hotel at an ‘Essentially Central’ literary forum on Saturday, October 1.
“The discussion, facilitated by Robin Dicey, will focus on the importance of conserving Central Otago’s unique character.”
Bannockburn Hotel was also hosting a ‘Budburst Festival’ on Sunday, October 2, with blind wine tasting and build-your-own fascinator competitions.
The popular Banny Beanie-making competition will be judged this year by artist Alan Waters, felter Bev Muir and former seamstress Janet Middleditch. It will be accompanied by a textiles exhibition at the bowling green and the artists of Bannockburn will display work at Cairnmuir Station woolshed throughout the event.
There would also be a performance by a brass quintet, Scottish feast at Carrick Vineyard, craft market with children’s entertainment, guided rambling with Gordon Stewart and a day-long photography workshop with Tim Hawkins. Tickets for all events are available from the Cromwell i-site.
It didn’t worry Willie Moore that most of the onlookers during his early golfing days were merino sheep. Cromwell’s resident golf professional has fond memories of starting out, just up the road, at the well-loved, rural course at Tarras.
Today he is living the golfing dream, having worked hard in Australia gaining his professional status then returning to settle on home turf, Central Otago.
Willie(30) has high hopes for the Cromwell course this summer, as a destination for the increasing number of golf tourists coming to the area. Newcomers to Cromwell and those wanting to learn the game would also be a focus, he says.
Cromwell’s course had a central location, some unique characteristics and a host town now offering other quality tourist attractions.
“Queenstown has become the number one destination in New Zealand for golf tourism. We are talking with golf tour operators there about including us in their packages because they can really make it a day out here now –play in the morning then go to Highlands[Motorsport Park], have a helicopter flight and visit a winery.”
Cromwell’s course was unique in being sand-based, open, scenic and in a location where sunny days were frequent. It was considered a ‘links’ course, a term usually associated with coastal terrain.
“It’s the only inland links course in the South Island…not too many trees, tussocks and marram-type grasses and free draining sand,” Willie said. “It gives us a point of difference. People might come to Queenstown and play five different courses but they could all be same style of course and they can get bored of that. Cromwell is a bit different so it mixes it up a bit.”
Willie believed the new cycle trails planned for Cromwell would also bring more golfers over the coming years as the two activities often attracted the same demographic.
Because the course was large and open, he said, it never felt crowded.
“It is a lot quieter and it’s a really peaceful environment here. People like that too. And it’s cheaper. If you are a member of any club in New Zealand you can play 18 holes from only $35. At the Hill’s course in Queenstown its $600.”
Twilight Gatherings Friendly and Fun
Club golf in Cromwell was strong with about 350 members registered, he said. Twilight meets were probably most popular local gathering with up to 100 people sometimes taking part.
“Twilight golf is great here. It’s really social and open to anyone, members or non-members. That will start again in October and run through until March.”
Willie’s passion is helping people with their golf through coaching and club-fitting and after a year in the job he is thriving on the challenge. He operates his business, Moore Golf, from beside the clubrooms and is PGA professional golfer.
The course is familiar territory for him, playing here first as a high school student at Cromwell College. The school’s golf academy programme gave him the skills to go on and represent Otago then Canterbury. Six years in Melbourne followed, doing his PGA traineeship while working at an exclusive members club on the famed ‘Melbourne sandbelt’. He then earned a living on the Australian professional circuit often playing in front of large crowds.
Willie, who has a young family, hopes to meet lots of visitors and some of Cromwell’s newer residents on the course this summer.
He is also looking forward to helping host the final qualifying events for the New Zealand Open held in March 2017. This attracted high calibre talent from all over New Zealand and overseas and made good use of the hardest of the course’s five tee options.
“They love the course, it’s long and it’s challenging enough for them. It holds up to the pros and we get lots of spectators…I get to play too so that’s a bonus.
If you want to learn more about Cromwell’s great course contact Willie on firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone 03 445-0165.
One of Central Otago’s best kept secrets, the Cromwell Heritage Precinct exudes historic charm with its warm stone walls, cottage gardens, lakeside location and character-filled stores.
Created by volunteers 27 years ago when the rising waters of man-made Lake Dunstan began lapping at Cromwell’s former main street, the historic village continues to grow. It is not only a delightful and free visitor attraction with interactive historical displays and beautifully restored buildings, but also a hub for artists and craftspeople.
The schist stone cottages and shops are tenanted by an arts collective, master printmaker, renowned goldsmith, highly original wire sculptor and bone carver The goldsmith, Les Riddell, has been plying his ancient trade for over 25 years, the talented Canadian reworking family heirlooms as well as crafting new pieces. Wire sculptor Marie Velenski’s work is as original and quirky as it is intricate and plant expert and maker of herbal creams and perfumes, Karen Rhind, also adds unique character to the precinct.
Unique imported and New Zealand-made giftware is found in Jan Hawkin’s ever-changing treasure-trove of a store, Sequioa. Italian cuisine including delicious gelato at Armando’s Kitchen is one option for great eating, the other is the delightful Grain & Seed Café where visitor’s sip coffee from vintage crockery.
Named last year as one of New Zealand’s best ‘hidden gems’ by AA Directions Magazine, the precinct is gradually being discovered by overseas visitors, Kiwi families, and locals.
Historical displays tell the story of the frantic 1860s gold rush when sparsely populated Central Otago was suddenly inundated with thousands of prospectors. Children love the talking ‘locals’ who tell the yarns, life-size horses and secret alleyways, as well as the ducks, fishing wharf and picnic areas.
Located on Melmore Terrace, the Precinct hosts the Cromwell Farmers Market every Sunday from November to March. The market incorporates crafts now too and is great place to grab a coffee some fresh baking and catch up with friends.
Original and Innovative Arts at Hullabaloo and OCTA Gallery
Quality art work of international standard can be found at both the Hullabaloo Art Space and Old Cromwell Town Art Galleries.
The majority of the 15 professional artists that make up the Hullabaloo collective have been recognised in the art world with awards and other accolades.
The success of the gallery, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is attributed to the group’s focus of maintaining high standards of work that is constantly being refreshed.
“The gallery is rehung each month with new work and we exhibit a wide range of artistic disciplines. It’s an artist-run initiative so there is always one of us on hand to discuss the works with visitors,” collective member Lynne Wilson said.
At OCTA gallery, master printmaker Chris de Jong displays fine works by international and national artists, some of whom are his former pupils. Before he and his artist wife Gail moved to Central Otago to pursue their artist careers fulltime, Chris was principal lecturer at the School of Art in Dunedin. Gail’s stunning landscapes, often depicting the ruggedly beautiful terrain around Bannockburn, can be found in both galleries.
Thirty-seven years ago, Eletheria Jones asked her husband if he could build her a little roadside fruit stall so she could read books in the sun and sell some fruit from the family orchard.
“Well, I haven’t read a book yet,” she laughs. “It was a funny thing. A bus stopped and when they were leaving the driver said Mrs Jones you better get some more fruit, two buses coming tomorrow.”
Today the bustling business is a tourist attraction in its own right with some groups being driven there from Queenstown Airport straight off international flights, then back to the resort to check into hotels, head to Milford Sound and tick off other South-Island-whirlwind-tour highlights.
The stall hums everyday with hundreds of visitors who come to see and to sample the elaborately displayed goodies, and to meet Mrs Jones.
It was the government’s worker recruitment programme of the mid-1960s that bought her to Cromwell from her home in Crete. It was quite the adventure in those days, travelling halfway across the world then finding a job in the Hotel Cromwell, waitressing and housekeeping. Here she met Doug Jones who had set up a crayfish and venison export business in an old rabbit processing factory and was staying at the hotel.
A few years down the track, when ten barren, rabbit-infested acres came up for sale near the entrance to the Kawarau Gorge, the couple bought it with orcharding in mind.
“Everyone said you’ll never grow anything on that, it was so rough and dry, only rabbits and briar bushes. Doug, he was very determined and worked so hard.”
They persevered with their challenging block until trees were established, then bought more land on nearby Ripponvale Road and planted that out.
In the early days of the stall, women from throughout the region would make an outing of their annual fruit buy-up for preserving. Many would swap recipes with Mrs Jones and today some of their children now bring their own children to the stall.
Suncrest Orchard in Ripponvale was added to the Jones’over the years operation and the stall has undergone three major expansions. The couple have two children, Michael and Christina, who are fully involved in the business, as is Michael’s wife Dianne.
The property now covers 70 hectares, Michael says, including 55 hectares of cherries. The balance is planted in nectarines, apples, pears, peaches, apricots, plums and in grapes.
The fruit stall carpark would now occupy almost half a rugby field and when that’s getting full, Mrs Jones says, she sometimes sends a few buses down to the Cromwell Heritage Precinct with instructions to come back when there’s more room.
At the peak of the busy summer season the Jones’ can have up to 280 people on the payroll. They provide accommodation for up to 180 and many staff come back year after year.
During summer Doug opens the stall at 7.30am and closes it at 8pm. It’s always been his job and even now in late winter, the apples, pears and multitude of other goodies are still attracting customersfinding buyers until he closes up in the dark at 6.30pm.
“He’s good like that. I was lucky with him. But we are all workaholics, the whole family. It is very hard work and long hours and everyday busy but we enjoy the people and we all get on well together. We are very lucky to live here and because we are a family orchard.”
Mrs Jones says she doesn’t advertise and never has. She believes stone fruit in Central Otago simply tastes better than anywhere else in New Zealand and that is what keeps the people coming.
The other major attraction is, of course, Mrs Jones herself. Some of the longer serving bus drivers and tour leaders call her Mum and she greets everyone like an old friend. Mrs Jones’ smile has appeared on Chinese television, in countless visitor ‘selfies’ and doesn’t seem to falter even after eight hours on the shop floor.
Twelve years ago when a block came up for sale next door, Mrs Jones quickly claimed it before her husband and son could line it up for more fruit trees. She finally had a chance to realise her dream of creating a formal English garden. Doug planted the roses -all 1500 of them- set amongst classical statues, neatly clipped buxus hedging and formal walkways.
The garden and her three grandchildren aged 15, 13 and 9, are great sources of joy for Mrs Jones. She travels to Crete every second year to visit family and the couple enjoy cruise ship holidays as a way to unwind from the frenetic pace of summer. Sadly the migrant crisis in Europe has prompted them to postpone travelling to Crete this year.
That human tragedy is a reminder of how lucky people are to live in Central Otago, Mrs Jones says, and of the importance of tolerance, being kind and of making our visitors feel welcome.
Tim Jones(above) manages 45 South, Cromwell's largest export cherry producer. The area's cherries are now regarded as the world's best in elite markets in Asia...
Read the full story here: https://www.odt.co.nz/business/farming/best-world-fruit-demand
Reliving Muscular Racing Glory – Highlands Festival of Speed & Classic Car Weekend
Whether your passions include classic cars and vintage racing, or you just enjoy a really good day out with amazing atmosphere, then it’s time to book your tickets for the 2017 Highlands Festival of Speed & Classic Car Weekend. Instead of high-tech modern vehicles, spectacular Classic Cars will be throwing off their protective covers and coming out of storage to re-live their racing glory.The hugely popular ENZED Central Muscle Cars are back again, with a full field ready to wow the crowd! They are joined this year by Pre 65 Racing, who are also bringing a full grid to add to the old school racing feel for this year’s Highlands Festival of Speed. With Highlands own categories, of modern and nostalgic classics, historic saloons and single-seaters the weekend is shaping to be one of the best yet!
Ticket prices to be confirmed, children under 16 are free when accompanied by an adult. The important thing to remember is that once you enter the gate there is a wide range of free activities. Ride the Hop on Hop off bus around the entire facility and visit the Jurassic Safari Park, great for the kids and spectacular viewing. There are also the free grid walks, free pit access and free kids activities, as well as a free vehicle show with over 100 vehicles!
Lock in your great weekend of classic racing and family fun, and get your tickets now – either pre-purchase from TicketDirect or from the Highlands Museum. An entire weekend of family-friendly action, right on your doorstep!
Check out what the Otago Polytech Central Campus has on offer.
Start a new Career @ Otago Polytech Central Campus
There are a myriad of courses Otago Polytechnic Central Campus all of which are held in high regard by employers. The subject of employability is where Central Campus really delivers. With over 250 students from all walks of life, the programmes offered at Central have been designed to ensure that students are both well-educated and work ready. Real work experience is woven into the fabric of each course, making it a truly experiential learning experience, putting them in good stead when it comes to looking for employment.
Mel Kees, the Central Otago Campus Marketing Coordinator explains: “Many of the courses we offer are focused on meeting skills shortages, which is why our graduates have such a high employment rate. Most of our courses are also specific to the region, and offer skills that get the students jobs in and around the area as well as further afield.”
“Sustainability is also a key element in all our courses especially in regards to the world of ‘paddock to plate’ or vineyard to bottle,” continues Kees. “We even have an online course in Sustainable Growing Practices that urbanites from all over New Zealand can study!”
Degree or diploma courses are offered in Business, Bike Mechanics, Cookery, Farming, Horticulture, Mechanics, Sports Turf Management, Stonemasonry, Sustainable Practice, Snow Sports, or Viticulture.
There are also ‘earn while you learn options’ and courses that offer the Youth Guarantee Scheme. For more information on what the Otago Polytech Central Campus has to offer go to www.central.op.ac.nz or email email@example.com.
Back Country Cruising – Bike Week 2017 @ Bannockburn
It's Motorcycle Adventure Time
If you enjoy spending a week cruising on two wheels, it’s time to sign up for this year’s Bike Week @ Bannockburn. The Bannockburn Pub, affectionately called “The Banny” by locals, will be Bike Week HQ (for the fifth year running) from the 28th January to 3th February 2017.
Known as ‘The Heart of the Desert’ Bannockburn was once a hive of gold mining activity, and in more modern times it has become known for its wineries that produce world-famous pinot noir, it’s the ideal location for the week-long motorcycling schedule. Participants can choose from ‘Adventure Rides’ – exploring the hills of Central Otago and beyond; ‘Road Tours’ – day trips exploring the wider region; and as an added bonus a series of guest speakers and dinners.
Dave Moreton, one of the event organisers, is quick to point out that although you get to see some amazing scenery, the week is really about the people you ride with.
“It’s amazing how lifelong friendships can be forged on a full tank of gas and a day’s adventuring on a motorcycle. Bike Week is all about exploring as a group and the sense that you are riding places that most people don’t get to.”
This year’s highlights would include adventure rides and road tours and -yet to be confirmed - the Highlands Motorsport Park ride.
“It’s the stuff that dreams are made off, and at $35 per single or $50 with a pillion, people can actually afford to do their two controlled laps without becoming a professional rider!” says Moreton.
Breakfasts and dinners are where riders swap their two-wheeled road stories and the speaker evenings are always well attended.
If getting out on your motorcycle for a whole week sounds like your idea of a perfect holiday, register for 2017 Bike Week @ Bannockburn simply go to www.bikeweeknz.com and register online.
Out of Africa to Flying High in NZ: The Story Behind Team Heliview
Many Cromwellians have come to know Richard, Jolanda and Safi Foale as the community-minded team behind Heliview Flights who specialise in scenic helicopter flights, alpine snow landings and heli-bike adventures around the Cromwell Basin. However, the story behind their move to Cromwell is just as interesting as the view from their “office” soaring high over Central Otago.
Richard and Jolanda both grew up in Kenya. Richard was introduced to fixed wing flying from an early age thanks to his father, so a six-year stint flying helicopters for the British Army Air Corp seemed almost inevitable. As a ‘young colonial’ he enjoyed his officer training school days and another highlight was a one-year deployment to Canada. After completing his service, he was ready to return to Africa and look for a different challenge.
Richard didn’t pick an easy option as he ended up managing an airfield in Somalia for an American organisation that sub-contracted to the United Nations. This was during “Black Hawk Down” days and overseeing the main airfield in Mogadishu definitely had its challenges. He was in charge of making sure that all non-military personnel and resources arrived and departed on time Occasionally, this also meant stopping enemy forces from stealing UN aid supplies and just staying alive were more important than normal airfield objectives.
The call to take to the air again saw Richard sitting his fixed wing licence before he began flying UN personnel and VIPs in a Cessna Caravan around Somalia and East Africa. This endeavour was short-lived; however, as the United Nations pulled out of Somalia, so it was back to Kenya and helicopters.
Kenya not only re-ignited his joy of helicopters he also got back into rally car driving as he often undertook fly-in supply and support runs for motorsport rallies. It was on a trip to Timau where he was driving his own rally car that he met Jolanda, where she was busy doing three-day eventing. Richard insists that he and his mates went to see the equestrian prowess; Jolanda thinks it was more about watching ‘girls in jodhpurs.’
Born in Switzerland, Jolanda and her family moved to Kenya when she was four years old. She became an accomplished horsewoman at a young age and by the time Richard met her she could hold her own on the East African eventing circuit. She also proved her mental fortitude beyond the equestrian world by completing her BSc in International Tourism and Hospitality Management from Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland.
The Foales moved to New Zealand in 2001. Richard’s sister had married a kiwi and Aotearoa seemed like the place to be. Richard had a short stint flying private charters and scenic flights out of Mechanics Bay in Auckland before they moved to New Plymouth and began flying for the rescue helicopter.
After flying around Taranaki’s mountainous maritime climate for a few years, Richard and Jolanda started Heliview Flights in New Plymouth in December 2003. More recently, operating in a more temperate climate seemed like a good idea. On average, Cromwell has the sunniest, most flyable days of anywhere in Central Otago so they moved down south in 2014. When asked what they like best about Cromwell, the answer was simple according to Jolanda, ‘It’s the people. We’ve always made great friends wherever we’ve been, but the Cromwell community really is welcoming and fun to be a part of.”
Next time you decide you want to get a different perspective of Cromwell (from the air that is) know that the team behind your aerial Central Otago adventure is both experienced when it comes to everything involving helicopters, and extremely proud to be based in Cromwell. For more information on Heliview Flights go to www.heliview.co.nz.
Catching up with Comedian Peter Rowley: Morning Host on Central Otago Radio
It’s an odd feeling knowing that you are about to interview the new presenter on Central Otago Radio who was also the voice behind ‘Dog’ from Footrot Flats. It becomes even more daunting, knowing that he is also a comic genius. He has worked with New Zealand comedy icons like Billy T James, McPhail & Gadsby, and Pio; in fact, he really is a comedy icon in his own right!
It’s not surprising that Peter (Harrison) Rowley is an engaging conversationalist. What is unexpected is just how candid he is about his life story and aspirations for Central Otago Radio and Central Otago in general. It’s because of this sense of authenticity that this was perhaps the most enjoyable interview with a “famous” person that I’ve ever done.
The first thing to clear up is the name ‘Peter’ as he was christened Harrison; Peter came from his childhood nickname “Peterkin”. He is absolutely unashamed about being a slightly “odd wee thing” when young and he remembers being told by most of the family to “stop showing off”. The exception here being his grandmother who lived on a farm in Hawea Flat and would ask him to “stand on a chair dear and do that thing you do,” whenever her friends came to visit.
Peter’s father flew in the South Pacific and after doing an agricultural cadetship at Lincoln started a business as an aerial photographer and crop dresser. This explains the root cause behind Peter’s love of aviation and his pursuit of his own personal pilot’s licence. His mother was a nurse at Cromwell Hospital and he was supposed to have been born in Cromwell; however, due to complications his official arrival happened in Timaru.
Peter also acquired a spirit of entrepreneurialism from his parents. His dad would fly over farms taking photo’s and drop a leaflet saying “If you want photographs of your property for your farm management plan please contact….” His mum would then do a ‘colour touch up job’ on a low flying photograph of the farmhouse and these also seemed to sell every time.
Sadly, the effects of flying under stressful conditions in World War II meant that Pete’s dad was not an easy man to live with and his parent’s marriage dissolved while he was still young. Pete’s upbringing was focused around Central Otago with time also spent on Haldon Station in the Canterbury High Country and his formal schooling completed at Christ’s College in Christchurch.
His earliest memory of Cromwell was doing road trips with his grandmother to visit the ‘big’ department store that had an ‘Air Vac’ system running around the building. The shop assistant would put the purchase order and money in a special tube and it would be sucked up a tube only to return with a receipt and exact change. To a young boy, it seemed like mechanical magic!
After years of well-documented comedy success and living in Australia Peter has returned to Central Otago because “it’s my home and I love it.” He’s now the weekday morning host on Central Otago Radio based in Alexandra and is heavily focused on ‘bringing in the Cromwell side of the story.” He’s inspired by the growth in viticulture and tourism.
When I asked him what were the biggest change that he had noticed coming back to New Zealand and he gave a no holds barred answer. “The centralisation of all things media to Auckland, Queenstown has just lost a major radio station, and we had to close our office in Cromwell. What we’ve got here is really special. Community radio is an endangered species and like so many other facets of business, we need to support our local people.’
Pete’s astute view of the world, comedic sense of timing and ability to get people relaxed and talking, blasts through loud and clear across on Central Otago Radio. If you want to hear interviews with local people, more about what is going on in the world (Central Otago and beyond), and enjoy an updated song playlist tune into 91.9 FM. Or you can stream the programme live or download the app to hear his broadcast live every day at www.localradiocentral.nz.