Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Track at Round Hill to Officially Open

The Te Araroa Trust are a national organisation whose goal is to create a hiking trail that spans the length of the country by 2010. With many sections of the track already opened in the North Island, Mayor Cardno will officially open the first section of the trail in Southland on 29 March. This section, the Long Hilly Walking Track, encompasses the historic Round Hill goldmining area and, eventually, Port's Water Race. The next section of the track will go through the Longwoods and Takitimu Mountains to the lakes of Mavora. I'm really looking forward to a track so close to home.

Monday, 17 March 2008

New Cafe

Otautau's latest business on Main Street is a very nice Chinese cafe. I've eaten there a few times since it opened several weeks ago. The menu is good and includes vegetarian options, for those of us who don't do meat. The service is cheerful and friendly which rates very highly in my book.

The new owner has other talents as well; he makes birthday cakes. He showed me some pictures of what he can create, and I must say they are very attractive. I'd definitely consider ordering one from him if I was planning a party or get together with friends.

It's refreshing to see a new business in the town and especially one that expands the variety of food options for locals and tourists alike.

Back to the 60s

This weekend the town was treated to a V-8 rally featuring cars and identities from the 1960s. They were on a groovy trip 'around the mountain', stopping at pubs along the way. Go-go girls, hippies and even Elvis, made the scene.

Commemorative Trees

This is the weeping ash of 1940 (NZ centennial) - alive and well at Holt Park.

I know there are other commemorative trees that have been planted around the town and district. If anyone has specific information on these, do contact me. I'd like to put all of these into a booklet for the museum.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Commemorative Trees and WDFF

You probably pass by this tree nearly every single day. It's a Golden Elm situated opposite Ian Watson's building, just along from the 4-Square Dairy on Main Street. It was planted 28 years ago by the Otautau Women's Division of Federated Farmers (WDFF) to commemorate their Golden Jubilee.

The WDFF (now the Rural Women of NZ) was a women's organisation created to ease the isolation of rural women around the country. They were proactive during times of illness or childbirth, as well as fundraising for community projects. In addition to these calls for duty, the Otautau WDFF also managed to plant several commemorative trees around the town during the 70 years they were in existence.

Starting in 1940, they planted a Weeping Ash at Holt Park to commemorate the centenary of NZ. Then in 1957, they planted several trees at Centennial Park to commemorate Southland's centennial.

In 1980, they celebrated their Golden Jubilee with the golden elm. And in 1990, they planted a Chilean fire bush near the entrance of the Otautau School to celebrate their Diamond Jubilee.

I'm not sure how many of these trees have made it into the 21st century but the golden elm has definitely survived.

For more information on the history of the Otautau WDFF and these commemorative trees, visit the Otautau Museum (open Sundays, 2pm-4pm). They have a display of two large volume scrapbooks created by the members of the club chronicling the club's history from 1930-1999. The books contain writings, photos, and newsclippings, and give insight into what women's lives were like.

And the next time you're driving by Ian Watson's and the 4-Square dairy, have a glance at this beautiful tree and remember the women who planted it.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Aparima River

For weeks it was a shadow of its former self, a mere trickle. However, after a few days of rain, the Aparima River is near level with its banks and creating lakes in the nearby plain. It is truly a sight to behold, one of the beauties of this valley. (click on the picture to enlarge).

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Space in Southland

Ok, this is slightly off-topic but may be of interest:

Space in Southland is a new exhibition about to open at the Southland Museum & Art Gallery. One of its themes is how satellite imagery is helping to rehabilitate the Awarua Wetlands.

The media release states:
"In addition to space food, the exhibition contains solar panels from the International Space Station, real-time satellite tracking displays and other space paraphernalia, alongside plants and animals from the Awarua Wetland. There is even some 'space junk' that was recovered from Fiordland after it fell out of the sky."

The exhibition will also feature an opportunity to launch rockets out the back of the museum. This is no time to be lost in space. The exhibition sounds fun!

For more information: Robin McNeill, Enterprise Project Manager, Venture Southland; Tel: 03 211 1410; Mobile 021 516 366; Email:

Gael Ramsay, Director, Southland Museum and Art Gallery; Tel: 03 219 9069; Email:

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