Today we travelled further inland crossing the Lowry Peak ranges out into the Waiau river plains between the latter and the Amuri ranges. The mountainous views were magnificent especially where we reached the summit overlooking the township of Waiau.
With the hot dry weather the hills are all scorched brown with just the odd patch of greenery. What got me was the absence of sheep which would have roamed these hills for decades. A sign of the times I suppose with NZ not being able to sell as much mutton and lamb to Britain as we once did. A big thumbs down to the EU for that situation. There has been some diversification with deer farming taking the place of sheep.
Once we arrived at our campsite just outside Hanmer Springs we had lunch and then drove into town for a visit. The town has always been famous for it’s Queen Mary’s hospital which came about during WWI. The hospital had been a convalescent hospital prior to the war for those partaking of the mineral waters in the area. During the war of course thousands of injured serviceman were shipped home and bought here to recuperate in peace and quiet. Strolling through the grounds you can imagine how therapeutic it must have been for the soldiers coming the noisy trenches to these peaceful surroundings.
Once again during WWII the hospital came to the fore and it remained as a military hospital until 1960 when it was handed over to the Mental Hygiene Dept of the then Hospital system. Here people with drug and alcohol dependencies were treated until the hospital finally closed in 2003.
The buildings and grounds are now looked after by the Hurunui District Council as a Heritage site.