3 February 2018


Known for wallabies, street car racing and its scrumptious locally grown strawberries is the rural Canterbury township, Waimate. 

We spent five nights in Waimate, at the NZMCA park - another fabulous place to stay. It was peaceful with loads of space and we got to meet some lovely campers while we were there. Lillies growing along the fence line were beginning to flower during our stay and their fragrance wafted through the rig with the breeze. So lovely!

There's a paddock beside the NZMCA park, which is home to two horses, often we'd hear them galloping around playfully.
The friendly one.
The timid one.
Most mornings we woke to fog - but by 9 o'clock it lifted and the days grew hotter and hotter! 

One morning when I took Oakly for a walk, I put my jandals on and noticed the outline left behind, showing how damp the fog can be.

The outline of my jandals after they'd been in the fog.
Up on the slopes of Mt John is Waimate's iconic landmark, 'The White Horse'. This prominent monument is made of concrete slabs 18 metres high and 14.6 metres wide. It's a tribute to the clydesdales that were instrumental in developing the land.

The day was incredibly HOT when I decided to go and see 'The White Horse' up close. Although there's a walking and biking track to the monument I decided to take the ute instead. Turns out it was a good choice as the temperature that day reached mid-thirties!

The view from the hilltop was impressive. I zoomed the camera in as far as it would go to find the rig parked below.

The red arrow shows where the rig's parked.

Before 'The White Horse' monument was built Waimate's main landmark was the wheat silos, which as the name suggests were used to store wheat. Nowadays grain grown in the district is carted straight to Timaru or stored in silos on farms.

As mentioned it was pretty hot - with most day's temperature reaching well into the thirties. I wanted to find somewhere to take the dogs for a swim. So I googled dog friendly walks in Waimate and found 'Garlands Track' which runs alongside a creek. Perfect! 
Well that's what I thought until we arrived and discovered the creek was bone dry! Only dust and rocks were left in the river bed. This wasn't the first creek or river we found in the area  like that. When we asked locals for suggestions of water holes or rivers for a swim we were told there weren't any around Waimate anymore. They recalled times when they'd spent summers at the river swimming but those same rivers have now dried up. There's nothing left due to irrigation taking all the water. How can that even be allowed to happen? So sad and so wrong. 

I'm sure years ago when Maori named the area 'Te Waimatemate' meaning 'slowly moving waters' they had no idea that the waters would move so slowly that one day, they'd stop flowing altogether!

With the option of a river swim off the table, we headed to Knottingley Park. A large park with mature trees offering lots of shade.

Knottingley Park has an old restored bush dwelling that was typical of those occupied by pioneers. It was built over 150 years ago using hand sawn totara. The walls were so low that a peak was made in the doorway to make entering the hut easier.

If you like historic buildings there are plenty to see around Waimate's township. They've been beautifully restored and add to the town's charm.

A mural of a saloon car race on one of the buildings in town hints of times gone by. In 1959 a young Bruce McLaren won the first Waimate Street race.

And further along is another historical memory - a monument of a bushman sitting on a log.

However my favourite monument is of Dr Margaret Cruickshank who was NZ's first practising female GP. She was respected among the community and fondly remembered for going beyond the call of duty. In 1918 when the influenza epidemic hit and people became very ill, Dr Cruickshank would call around to their homes and cook them a meal, and milk their cows if needed. She was an amazing woman. Sadly she died from influenza in 1918.

Although Waimate is only a small township, it has it's share of famous New Zealanders. Norman Kirk the 29th Prime Minister of New Zealand (1972 -74) was once a Waimate lad.  Kirk came from a poor background and left school just before he turned 13 and became one of NZ's most popular Prime Ministers.
Another local, Eric Batchelor was the most highly decorated NCO (non-commissioned officer) of WW2. Batchelor was known by the community as the 'Waimate Warrior' and nicknamed 'The Ferret' by his comrades after specialising in night raids behind enemy lines. In Italy he led raids against the German enemy and once when he noticed the smell of sauerkraut, it resulted in him capturing a German commander and 19 others. 
After learning about Eric Batchelor, I contacted my good friend 'Google' and found a book recently published covering Batchelor's life and experiences in WW2. It's called 'The Ferret' written by Tom O'Connor (a Waimate District councillor).

Not only is Waimate known for its notable locals it's also a town renown for wallabies. Due to the spell of warm weather we spent a few evenings in the shade at Victoria Park and an added bonus was getting to see wallabies in a fenced enclosure.

And then the day came to move on again...this time we were off to Ealing, less than an hour's drive north.

Spot 'The White Horse' up on the hills to the right of tree.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you.