Picturesque village

Review our ruins | Stuff.co.nz

Southland is a bit short of picturesque ruins and suggestions of what might qualify are most welcome.

We have cannon sites at Bluff, old bridge abutments on the Waiau in Blackmount, the ship graveyard at Greenpoint, the old Invercargill wharf and the old Tiwai wharf.

The Tiwai wharf was built in 1900 for the quarantine station, but not much remains.

There are many potential picturesque ruins, as old structures, abandoned or unprofitable to repair, crumble into the landscape until council enforces a demolition order on the grounds of impending collapse, or perhaps vermin or asbestos.

There are a lot of decrepit structures waiting for a few more pieces to fall before they get quaint.

Perhaps New Zealand’s best-known picturesque ruin is Christchurch Cathedral, which is due for restoration with an opening slated for September 2027, 16 years after its collapse.

Cargill Castle, on top of a cliff in Dunedin, is being stabilized to prevent further deterioration and plans for landscaping, trails and signage are underway.

The Chinese village of Arrowtown has been partially rebuilt and there are trails and information boards where there used to be only blackberries, willows and brooms.

The 20m chimney of the crumbling old copper mine on Kawau Island lends an austere human element to a natural shoreline. Around the coasts of Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, and Auckland there are numerous WWI and Prior gun locations from which no shots were fired in anger.

The Denniston mine is well worth the long zigzag uphill.

Railroad cars, disused machinery and skeletal buildings are preserved to remember an important slice of history on a remote plateau.

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* A heavy reminder of a route never taken
* A suitable gravestone for a true eccentric

The longest cave

Southland’s longest cave is the Aurora Cave in the Murchison Mountains above Lake Te Anau. It is 6,400m long and ranks tenth in New Zealand – the longest is the Bulmer Cavern at 67,233m.

At 267m deep, it is believed to be New Zealand’s 22nd deepest cave. Globally, it is a simple rabbit hole, ranked as the 665th longest cave in the world

When the Waiau blocked

Although it was the second largest river in the country, at rare intervals the mouth of the Waiau had become completely blocked.

This resulted in extensive flooding until it burst through the gravel bank.

In Southern times of February 28, 1914 reports Sherwood Roberts, “Following a violent hurricane on March 1, 1840 which uprooted the largest trees, the mouth of the Wolsley River (The Waiau) was blocked so that barely a drop of water escaped into the Wed.

As a result, a lake, resembling an inland sea, formed at its mouth, and if it had not succeeded in breaking through the pebble bank piled up by the storm, the country for miles around would have been submerged.

He blocked again in 1896.