Cromwell Base Easter

2-6 April 2015

Glenda and I last took a base camp to the Cromwell Top 10 at Easter 2005, so it was definitely time we repeated the trip to the land of old gold-mining sites, water races and the new gold—vineyards. Using the same formula, we booked three standard cabins for twelve, sweated over getting the numbers for a while, then ended up with a total of seventeen!

We had eight in two ‘group’ vehicles, that is Glenda, me (Merv), Helen Harkness and Jill Fenner in ours, plus Penny Coffey, Margaret Lovell-Smith and Shane Wright in Liz Stephenson’s. Keith Patterson and Yvonne came from Oamaru, Mary and Tim Hines came via Dunedin. So did Tricia Meehan who flew down from Wellington, visited Dunedin and then bused up to Cromwell to arrive at the Top 10 at the same time as we did! Then Maureen Thompson and Graham, plus Marion and Keith McQuillan arrived in their campervans. With the vans parked near our cabins and the facilities block, our ‘village’ was conveniently set up. Our numbers were then swelled at times by Lesley Anderson from Wanaka, plus Colin and Heather, who were staying with Lesley.

Our vehicle had the luxury of leaving town early afternoon, on another lovely nor-west day to arrive early evening. Not so Liz and co. Leaving Chch after work they arrived at 11.15pm. The pleasant warm and westerly conditions proved to be pretty much what we would have for the entire weekend and allowed us to sit at the tables on the terrace outside the kitchen for evening meals.


Cairnmuir Track starts from Bannockburn and runs along the range above the Cromwell Gorge all the way to Clyde. Our objective was halfway along this track—the old stone hut at Boundary Stream. Conditions were even drier than usual with lots of thyme growing there. After lunch three of us walked on for a view down into the gorge and then caught the others on the way back down. Back in Cromwell, Glenda and I checked out the cafes for our planned Sunday evening’s meal out. The usual base-camp very social evening followed, including a well-catered-for organised ‘potluck’ dinner.


Carricktown is a popular track up-valley, south of Bannockburn, popular for intermediate bikers, too. Not everyone continued on to the Young Australian water wheel and yes, I admit I had suggested before we left base that we were going for a gentle wander around the Sluicings. But on this up and back with an all-day view we mostly arrived back at the road-end together, happy I hope. I did get my leg pulled about it for the rest of the weekend. Another fine evening and dinner number two on the terrace.


We didn’t go up the west side of the lake last time so this was a must for the majority of our group. Access to the old pack track is up Lowburn Valley Rd, then Swann Rd, to start via Lowburn Station yard. It’s a farm road all the way, often zigzagging up spurs to gain the gentle slopes higher up. Surprisingly, it was overcast and easterly to start the morning and we eventually climbed up into the cloud. But just when needed, the cloud broke up and cleared to a brilliant day along the tops. We had lunch near the junction of the track leading to the poled route heading north-west to Cardrona and the farm track continuing north. The private MacMillan Hut along that road was dismantled and having a new floor installed by a large work party; or maybe being completely rebuilt. After lunch, Penny, Shane and I went for a gallop down to Deep Creek Hut on the Cardona route. An old station hut that DoC had brought up to standard internally, it is in a great spot. Meanwhile, the second group with MTBs had walked around the Sluicings then explored by bike. Another fine evening encouraged socialising on the kitchen terrace, followed by dinner at the Brewhouse restaurant in Cromwell.


We weren’t finished. Departing our base, we went to:

Old Cromwell Town for a wander

Quartz Reef up the side of the lake for a walk to the fascinating herringbone tailings.

In via Bendigo for the long drive up to Welshtown on the high terrace.

Lunch on a very busy Easter Monday at Wrinkly Ram in Omarama.

So with great weather and a group of seventeen, how could it not be a very enjoyable Easter weekend?