Don’t leave Town Till You’ve Seen The Country

parked at butchers dam
parked at butchers dam

Don’t leave town till you’ve seen the country

If you are roughly the same vintage as me, you’ll probably remember that 1980s tourism campaign “Don’t Leave Town Till You’ve Seen The Country” Well, with Covid-19 landing, and staying, on our doorstep preventing overseas travel, it is timely to revisit our own beautiful country and all it has to offer. Such a pity the current Level 3 lockdown in Auckland is stopping many Kiwis from getting out and about.

As you may have read in an earlier story on The Occasional Photoblogger, Lyn and I took delivery of our “new” motorhome about a month ago, having started the purchase process before we first went into lockdown. But now we have it and we can leave town and see the country!

A fortnight ago we headed off on a loop circuit from Invercargill, up to Roxburgh, on to Alexandra, then Bendigo, back around the top end of Lake Dunstan and down to Lowburn and Cromwell. We returned  home home through the Kawarau Gorge and down the side of Lake Wakatipu. The round trip was just on 650 kilometres, and the 5 nights we were away gave us a much better idea of what we can expect of the motor homing life. The weather was spectacular the whole time we were away – apart from the thick mist that engulfed us at Lowburn and took almost all morning to burn off. Otherwise it was beautifully sunny – but cool – with big Central Otago blue skies.

Only a couple of things put a wee shadow over our road trip. The night we stayed at Butchers Dam was very very cold and the frost protector popped and drained all our fresh water…and when I filled the tank at Alexandra I stupidly left the filler cap behind. Fortunately a motorhomer who came along to fill up not long after we left found it and through the power of Facebook I was able to get the cap back.

But as The Occasional Photoblogger is primarily about photographs and stories, here I’ll cut to the chase and share some of the wonderful views we enjoyed of Central Otago.

Pinders Pond Clutha River Roxburgh Central Otago

Peaceful Pinders Pond

Pinders Pond, alongside the Clutha River near Roxburgh, is a popular picnic and overnight camping area. Although it looks like a natural lake it is actually a man made hole filled with water – a left over of the area’s old gold mining days.


Butchers Dam Alexandra Central Otago

Butchers Dam

Butchers Dam was built during the Great Depression to provide a reliable water source for Alexandra – just a few kilometres further up the road. This is a truly beautiful spot with many walks within the surrounding Flat Top Conservation area. I have to admit that we didn’t realise that overnight camping – even in a fully self-contained motorhome – is not allowed. Perhaps DOC need to put up signs larger than the pitiful just-over-A4-size No Camping signs we spotted the morning we left.


stepping stones at Butchers Dam near Alexandra Central Otago

Stepping stones


the sun rises over the old man range in central otago

Old Man Range


Bendigo Reserve on the shore of Lake Dunstan

Bendigo Reserve on the shore of Lake Dunstan

Bendigo is another area steeped in gold mining history. The reserve we stopped at is on the shore of upper Lake Dunstan – overnight camping allowed, and there is a toilet block too. The only downside is its proximity to the road – not the best with three dogs to worry about. Bendigo served up a beautiful sunrise, followed by a shroud of mist across the other side of the lake.


Sunrise over upper Lake Dunstan

Sunrise over upper Lake Dunstan


Mist over Lake Dunstan

Mist shrouds the Upper Clutha Valley


Lowburn Lake Dunstan Central Otago

Lowburn Lake Dunstan

If you can remember when the Clyde Dam was built on the Clutha River back in the early 1980s through to the early 1990s, you will remember that there used to be a bridge across the Clutha at Lowburn. The bridge is now well under water, and the town of Lowburn is now just a small residential settlement on the edge of Lake Dunstan.  The overnight camping area is great, although like Bendigo, a bit close to the main road if you have dogs.


Lowburn in the mist

A misty morning at Lowburn


Don't leave town till you've seen the country - the NZMCA camp at Cromwell

The Cromwell NZMCA camp

Our final stop was at the NZMCA Camp at Cromwell. Sitting in a nice wee valley just across the road from Lake Dunstan it is a lovely level site (levelling chocks not needed), and you can be entertained by the rabbits that run riot around the place.

So…if you want my advice for what it’s worth….don’t leave town till you’ve seen our beautiful country….

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Rick - The Occasional Photoblogger

I am Invercargill photographer Rick Harvey – aka The Occasional Photoblogger. I consider myself an opportunist photographer and enjoy taking photographs of ordinary things I see around me, and try to make them appear a little less ordinary and interesting, and while it is always nice to have others appreciate my images, my primary goal is to take photographs that make me happy.

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