Quarry turns art

Last updated 10:27 23/01/2013

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The view from the old Amberley Limeworks is stunning. 

Looking out, it embraces the mountains and river valleys of Waipara.

Turn around, and the stark white cliffs have been laboriously softened with native plants, with the quarry now home to the sculptures of owner Raymond Herber.

And you can enjoy it on January 27, along with live music, local beers and wines, and a bite to eat.

Herber said the annual open days at the limeworks - now called Iron Ridge Quarry - are a great way to take in sculpture in a non- threatening, non-arty, family environment. It's a renowned picnic day with a festival atmosphere but there's a hands-on aspect too - Herber will fire up the forge to show how he creates his pieces.

"It's not just about the art. It's about sharing the art and sharing the quarry - bringing it all into the public view. It gives us so much pleasure to see other people loving the place like we do."

He bought the quarry in 1997 after seeing a tiny advertisement in The Press.

"It was just a big, dusty rock pit with an old limestone storage shed on it. I managed to do a deal with a neighbour for 350 truckloads of topsoil, so we could start taking the edge off the rawness of it. It's been a mission planting each tree though - you've got to cut the hole then fill it with soil. A job that would usually take 20 minutes takes hours. It's still very much a work in progress too."

Today, Iron Ridge Quarry is making a name for itself as a destination for special-interest groups, organisations and schools, all of which are welcome by appointment. It is also open to the public on Sundays.

Herber said it is starting to attract inquiry as an events venue as well.

"It has a very special feel to it, especially in the evening when we get the candles lit on the paths and they throw their light up the limestone."

The Iron Ridge Quarry gates will be open on Sunday from 10am till 6pm with tickets $20 or $15 if booked in advance through www.event finder.co.nz and free entry for children under 16. You'll find the quarry at 707 Rampaddock Rd - turn across the train lines opposite the Mud House Winery on State Highway 1.

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