NPSNZ Mesopotamia, South Island, NZ, Labour Weekend 19- 22 October 2018

Field-trip Leaders: Heather and Al

Trip report by Barry

Another marvellous trip to an iconic location steeped in history. To quote from Wikipedia , NZ “Mesopotamia is an area of land at the head of the Rangitata River, east of the Southern Alps and inland from Peel Forest. The area is home to the well-known Mesopotamia Station which was established by influential novelist Samuel Butler in 1860 after arriving from England. The name Mesopotamia means ‘between two rivers’ ”.

Twenty one members assembled at The Cookhouse, our accommodation for three nights and after settling in some of us explored the farm working area with its historic buildings and farm machinery and then up the hill to establish locations for sunrise and sunset photos.  After the first of our pot luck dinners and briefing from Al and Heather we drove up to the farm lake for the first of the sunset photo opportunities.

Weather was fine and warm with minimal cloud so sunrises and sunsets were short and not overly impressive although valley fog provided added interest on Monday morning.  Although not necessarily ideal for photography, the sunny and warm day conditions were very pleasant for our wanders around the station and travel up river as far as Black Mountain.

In addition to the early morning and evening shoots, a range of activities were on offer.  We visited the cemetery well known as the resting place for Dr Andrew Sinclair, Colonial Secretary to Sir George Grey who drowned in the Rangitata in 1861 (Predominantly it’s the resting place for descendants of the current farming family and other people associated with the property), explored the Rangitata River for birds etc. and on Sunday we headed north through the farm and across several creek beds and the braids of the upper Rangitata River itself. Pied stilts, Banded dotterel, Wrybill, Terns and Paradise duck were all spotted plus other birds on the farm lake.

A highlight was a mystery activity at the woolshed, where Al gave a demonstration of wool classing and explanation of how to prepare the fleece for sale. Most interesting and a wonderful photo opportunity.

Residual snow on the peaks added to the already spectacular high country scenery in the upper Rangitata.  The Sinclair, Ben McLeod, Harper, Big Hill and Potts Range’s ring the valley and to the northwest is the Cloudy Peak Range. From our picnic viewpoint at the confluence of the Rangitata, Havelock and Clyde River’s, several peaks on the fringe of the Southern Alps came into view. A landscape photographers dream location, if not for the bright daytime conditions.

Pot Luck dinners are a feature on these trips and the Friday dinner and follow up on Sunday and BBQ on Saturday were very convivial occasions. Our thanks to Al and Heather for organising and leading a very enjoyable extended weekend trip and the work put in liaising with the property owners, documenting and briefing us on the suggested activities for each day. Very well done. This trip has raised the standard a few notches and we look forward to seeing the photo challenge images at the November meeting.

To view more images please visit Flickr