Old Maori Road
A shortcut used by locals driving between Luggate and Cromwell in Central Otago, New Zealand is the Old Maori Road. As it crosses the river plain between the Pisa Range and the hills behind Bendigo you get an appreciation of the difficulties that early settlers must have experienced when they first came to the area in the 1800s. It can get very hot and dry here in the summer and cold with snow in the winter.
Today the river valleys and surrounding hills are grazed by sheep which brought prosperity to the area after the departure of the early prospectors in the Bendigo Goldfields. Recently though, grape vines have been planted in the dry gravelly soil as the area has grown in reputation for the Pinot Noir wine that is produced. Some wineries, such as Quartz Reef and Aurora, take their names from old gold mines.
Looking northwest from the Old Maori Road there is a distant view of the Lammermoor Range.
Of Golden Times
The name Bendigo conjures up images of goldmining in the mid to late 1860s in both Victoria, Australia and Central Otago, New Zealand. Bendigo in Central Otago is reached via a loop road some 20 km from Cromwell. Little remains of the once thriving mining settlement where the road crosses a river ford except the ruins of a lone stone cottage beside the new gold of “Central”, grapevines for the developing wine industry.
From Bendigo a narrow gravel single-track road winds up the hill to Logantown, and then Welshtown where some of the best ruins of miners’ stone cottages can be found. Here, above the river valley below, it must have been bitterly cold in winter as southerly winds, driven from the Antarctic, brought snow to these isolated villages.
From Welshtown there are views to the Pisa Range in the west and the Lammermoor Range in the northeast.