Sunday, 14 February 2016

Weekend Adventures - Part 2

Saturday's adventure was David's visit to the Waiuta mine site. Given it is locked off, even though I am project managing its remediation, I had to ask permission of Dean, EnviroNZ's South Island project manager, as EnviroNZ have taken over responsibility for the site and effectively 'own' it until the remediation is complete and they hand it back to Dept of Conservation. Going on site means being kitted out in safety gear: arms and legs fully covered, high vis jacket, hard hat, boots for me, sturdy sneakers for David. Dean and Phaedra were up there on Tuesday and said the bees were busy, so we applied insect repellent on our faces, necks and hands - it removed some of the anxiety of having them buzzing about our faces as they are wont to do ...

All kitted out. I hadn't realised how David's  hard hat (borrowed from Kevin) was perched on his head like half a jaffa (a chocolate orange mouthful, well known if you're an NZer)

Some of the relics on the Waiuta site and the wonderful view over the valley.

The yellow sections are the worked out areas of the mine. On the right hand side looking carefully with your magnifying glass, you can see the words Sea Level - so when the men were down at the bottom of the shaft, they were 300 metres below sea level ...

After walking around the Waiuta site, we headed down to the Blackwater which has been cleared up and established as a visitor site. I was really pleased to see that some of the old stuff was left in situ, even though some of it comprised rusty old iron and bits of timber. I liked that the place wasn't so pristine and clear that it lost all meaning - I guess what I am saying is that H&S hasn't gone mad and people have to take a bit of care for themselves when walking around - the ground isn't particularly even either.
The foundations of the ball mill building.The photo was taken from the site of the old assay office. The mine shaft was on the rise near the skyline in the middle of the picture.

The aerial ropeway tower - the ropeway was self acting and  carried full containers down the hill and empty ones back.

David washing just before we left the site in case he'd absentmindedly touched anything or got any dust on his hands.
Down at Blackwater - a big hole fenced off. The building in the background is the visitor toilet block.

That's the bath-house, built in the late 1940s. Apparently the chimney was 124 feet high (38m) originally

This is what I mean about the site not being so pristine that it loses interest
That chimney served 4 fireplaces. Jim tells me this building was the mine office that shared it with the bowling pavilion.

Maybe the bowls were valuable and needed to be kept in the strongroom which has walls that were about a foot or more thick...

It was a beautifully clear day and the views from up there are wonderful, and David was pleased to see what I am working on, so even though it was a long drive (2 hours each way from Hokitika) it was worth it.

On the way back we stopped off to see the engine that Jim Staton was instrumental in having restored - doing the maths it seems he took that on back when he was in his mid-twenties; so his interest in preserving historical artifacts and places is obviously longstanding.
Jim's engine ...
The restoration has been done beautifully and it is a credit to him and the people who participated. The engine sits up on the old siding and has a parking area, picnic area and toilet as well as a walk. It seems that people often stop overnight there in their campervans.
Here it is unimpeded by me pretending to be an engine driver ...

I was pleased to be back in Hokitika - it was a long day driving in the heat - but it was certainly hotter at the mine site. No wonder the remediation activities won't be happening during the summer!

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