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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 4 (July 1, 1938.)

On the Waitaki Road

On the Waitaki Road.

The country in the region of the dam is full of interest. Downstream on the south side, just beyond a picturesque glimpse of Duntroon—white houses and a church tower uplifted on a green hill—the fringe of the Otago goldfields juts page 26 page 27 out in the scarred terraces of the Maerewhenua diggings.

The sheep stations about here are famous. Robert Campbell and Sons, Ltd., was a spacious name at the beginning of the century. They owned the Otekaike station which stretched from the top of Mount Domett to Duntroon and east to the Maerewhenua river. On the north bank of the Waitaki, another holding of theirs, Station Peak, extended for ten miles up the river to its junction with the Hakataramea and then for 30 miles along the tributary. The old limestone shearing sheds are still to be seen from the Waitaki road, mellowed and over-shadowed by aged trees beside the modern homestead.

In summer green this stretch of the Waitaki is beautiful with willows which soften the harsh edge of the landscape. In autumn there is a glory of leafy colour. But in the bleak places above the lake, about Otematata, the scene may become terrifyingly dramatic merely with the movement of the sun among the stark hills.

The heat pulses on the steep slopes in heavy waves. Nothing breaks the monotony of the sparse tussock except the gullies of the shingle slides. Cutting the yellow flat, yellow with Maori onion, the bend of the river is blue, and cold as glacial springs.

It is late afternoon, and soon the solitary clump of poplar trees around a lonely house is like the shadow of swords in the dusk. The declining sun makes the hills a screen of flat jagged partitions, two dimentional against the pale green arch of the nor'west sky. A silver light hangs between each serried ridge. But where the mountain tops lie towards the westering sun the colours blaze and change in terrible harmonies, through deepest ochre dyed with red madder, then cooling to a cobalt blue.