Power and Connections

Today Nigel had to catch a very early flight from Dunedin Airport so I suggested we stay at Lake Waihola Sunday night so I could drop him at the airport this morning. We settled into our motel Sunday afternoon and then set off for a bit of a driving adventure. I had the bright idea of heading in the direction of Waipori Falls, a location I had only a vague idea of. From the end of the sealed road it turned out to be a further 16km over a long dusty winding gravel road, through the Waipori Gorge. Some of it was single-lane, some single-lane curved ‘bridges’ that were kinda hung off the cliff and I didn’t dare look too closely, and a stretch where you’re not allowed to stop with ominous signs showing the ‘falling rocks’ icon! There were massive slips above the road on that stretch and again it didn’t pay to look too closely 🙂

Every so often we saw various bits of older infrastructure, a lot of old concrete work including big old tanks. It’s all steep hillsides covered in bush with the Waipori River at the bottom of the gorge and these bits of infrastructure scattered about here and there.

The idea of a village way out here in the back-of-beyond seemed unlikely but eventually we found Waipori Falls village – a scattering of basic old cottages (and no shops). There were some LED streetlights, a modern touch that seemed incongruous out here. The cottages that we saw appeared to be holiday cottages but a 2012 news article stated there’s 33 houses “nestled on hillsides” and we only saw a handful.. however we didn’t explore the “private road” which may have led to many more.

The public road is a through road so you can continue to Lake Mahinerangi but we had to get back to Waihola so we drove down to a picnic area where we found an old but operational power station with interesting architecture. The original village dwellings were constructed in 1902 by the Waipori Falls Company for workers building the company’s hydro electricity generation scheme. Other houses have been built at the location since.

The 2012 news article also stated, “The Dunedin City Council bought the power scheme and the village in 1907, selling the village about 15 years ago and the power scheme to TrustPower in 1998.” [The article’s about a Christchurch couple who own a holiday house here and there’s a slideshow of nice pics.]


I took these photos from the service lane alongside the old power station. Click on any photo to enlarge. Photos taken 30 August 2020.

A power pylon caught my attention and imagination. I saw a giant man about to march up the hillside!

The service lane we walked along. It was like we were in a ‘bowl’ with big bushclad hills all around. Just on dusk, the sunlight almost gone.

End of the service lane. The sign made me laugh, especially as it’s been sideswiped!

Power station. Cool-looking building.

This web page about Waipori Falls is worth a look: some info, three pics and a map where you can see for yourself the long winding route that we took to get to our destination (the big “P” on the map is where we parked).


We returned to Waihola taking a circuitous route via Mosgiel to get fuel. While Nigel was getting the fuel, I tried getting a shot of the iconic Saddle Hill to share with you. I’m fond of this landmark!


Text and photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2020)

18 thoughts on “Power and Connections

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    1. Our intent was just to reach the village. I’ve since read there’s a track you walk to a falls viewing platform but that the falls aren’t particularly visible from there! You need to make your own way further down the bank (with care) to see them. Seeing we were there right at the end of the day I’m glad we didn’t try going further, it was cold too and I was keen to get back in the car 🙂

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      1. Maybe an adventure for another day. I’ve stayed at Lake Waihola. Woke one April morning to a frost on the ground and uni games rowing on the lake. Lovely place.

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  1. A grand adventure, Liz and some lovely images! I loved that you only had a vague idea where you were headed and was half expecting you to have turned back when you got to the 16 KM long dusty winding….

    I like the metal man, perhaps a bit intimidating as the sun goes down :-).

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  2. I looked a the satellite view of the road that you took, Liz, and it looks impressively winding, with some really sharp hairpin turns. I am always wary of gravel roads, since traction can be problematic. I chuckled when I came your photo of the sideswiped sign. It probably was not intentional, but it sure reinforces the message of the sign. All in all, it sounds like you had a really cool little adventure. It is interesting that Nigel was taking a flight. Although many airlines are flying again here in the US, I don’t think that I am comfortable enough yet with the idea of enclosing myself in an aircraft with strangers.

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    1. Auckland’s been in lockdown but they’ve just been released to travel (as they now have very low new case numbers). In preparation for that, all of NZ now has to wear masks on public transport including planes, the rule came into force at midnight before he travelled – he left in the early morning 🙂 Winter hasn’t let go, I woke up to snow all round the house this morning. The first snow of any account we’ve had this winter (and 01 Sept is our first day of Spring haha). Glad I walked up the road last night and shopped for essentials, I was suspicious it wasn’t going to be nice this morning!

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  3. I’ve seen a lot of road signs, but the pair indicating ‘slippery when frosty’ was a new one. Of course the first thing that brought to mind was the Bon Jovi album Slippery When Wet, which contained the hit “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Fun photos.

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  4. I really wouldn’t have liked travelling along that road! Must get exciting for anyone who has to go out to the power station in winter!

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    1. The people who look after power networks in NZ are really amazing, I guess that often their work is overlooked (until we have a really big storm and maybe there’s no power for days – and then everyone is aware of them and their work!)

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