Icy thrill and cold blooded killing

19:27, Aug 19 2013
Otepuni freezes over
The Otepuni Stream was a popular skating track for several days when it froze over in June 1927.

The Otepuni Stream froze over most recently in June 1927.

It was a popular skating track for several days during an unprecedented cold snap. In the big freeze of July 1996 the Queen's Park duckpond froze but the Otepuni kept flowing.

IIn about 1892 Walter Murray stumbled upon a rich vein of rock containing what he thought were rubies high in the headwaters of the Cascade River.

Returning with companions McLean and Cray, he worked the deposit and collected a bag of rubies. Cray was shot by McLean and the two survivors returned to Dunedin, with the rubies making their way eventually to the Amsterdam market. It is possible that the whole story was a hoax or that the rubies were garnets.

Arawata Bill is said to have rediscovered the mine but subsequent searches have not found it, nor any rubies elsewhere in New Zealand.

The story is told in detail in the Otago Witness of February 4, 1897.


Southland's satellite tracking began on July 6, 1966, when Geoff Hall-Jones established Site 0610.

This was the southernmost amateur tracking station in the world and part of a network of observers who tracked individual satellites, providing valuable information on their orbits, speeds and malfunctions.

The observations were done with a telescope and took many hours each week.

Gradually the importance of the amateur astronomer in satellite tracking declined and it ceased altogether apart from significant launches.

The last of a consignment of crows from Scotland died, fortunately, when the Helenslea was within sight of Bluff on October 1, 1863.

There was a native crow which is long since extinct. A skull can be seen in Waikawa Museum.

The Helenslea crows had as travelling companions a shipment of rabbits which, unfortunately, did survive the voyage.

Southland's first visit by a Governor was on March 18, 1867, when Sir George Grey arrived two days late aboard the HMS Brisk having been weatherbound in Port Chalmers.

The Southland Times said, "All the paraphernalia necessary for His Excellency's reception was in readiness. Public bodies with addresses, the Fire Brigade with engines gaily dressed, the mounted troopers in all the glory of bright burnished spurs and highly-polished swords, proudly curvetting on their prancing chargers."

The festivities were postponed but the effusive greetings of the Southlanders when the Brisk finally arrived made up for the inconvenience.

Grey made the rail journey from Bluff to Invercargill in style in a specially decorated carriage. A procession and a dinner in his honour were held and he praised Southland for its railway and its progress.

The Brisk was open for inspection on the following day.

About The South
Lloyd Esler
15 Mahuri Rd,
Otatara, RD 9,
Phone-fax (03) 213 0404
email: esler@southnet.co.nz

The Southland Times