Everybody’s workin for the (Labor Day) weekend.

You get points if you know the name of the band who sang this title song (which doesn’t really have Labor Day in it, but since it’s Labor Day weekend here in Nz, what the heck).

I got two of the three days off for Labor Day Weekend, and that meant road trip!

Determined to win back a little respect from the Nz trout, I went in search of fishy waters.  I was headed for the Maniototo plains (high country plains) in Central Otago, where there is reputed to be good scenery, good biking and good fishing.  I pointed the nose of the Subaru Northwest out of Dunedin, traveling along high 87 along the Rock and Pillar Range of mountains.  It’s called that because:



I think you can see why they call it that.  Interestingly, if you look at the bottom picture, laying on rock are a number of bones.  If you go tramping through fields, one of the things you will definitely see are a lot of bones.  For the anatomically minded, you can even start naming the ones in the picture.  Oh, look, I see a vertebrae!  (Doctors are really fun at parties)  I passed through the mountains headed for the town of Ranfurly, which was supposed to have a crackin’ Saturday morning Labor Day festival and Farmer’s market.  Ranfurly is a small town, but even with that in mind I was surprised by the fact the entire festival was held in the town hall.  Wooden floor and all.  It was an eclectic group of town-folk selling their wares.  Lots of home baked goodies, some honey, and a home grown band belting out 70’s tunes with two wind instruments on the stage of the hall.  I was there about 15 minutes, and that was because I did three laps around, not wanting to seem uninterested.  Everyone there clearly knew I was from out of town (they all knew each other, I saw, and I’m sure they somehow knew I was American even without me speaking.   “Oh, look at the American, the way he walks and carries his backpack in such an American way….”)

Leaving the metropolis, I headed up to Coalpit Dam (and Reservoir).


Constructed during the gold rush years (yes, there was a big gold rush in this Area of Nz) it was stocked with trout many years ago, and they stayed because they liked it here.  Actually, all the trout in Nz were brought here from other parts of the world (there are NO native Nz trout).  One of the strains of Rainbow Trout is the McCloud Rainbow, from the McCloud River in California.  I was hoping the trout would feel our State connection.  And,


Yep, this weekend I caught trout.  Quite a few, actually.  All rainbows, though I saw a couple of browns.  They were picky (they flatly refused the first four different flies tossed their way) but seemingly couldn’t resist a green wolly bugger.  Nice fish, averaging 2 to 3 pounds.  Heaps of fun.  It was a great day, in somewhat contrast to what was forcasted for the weather yesterday.  I then headed back to Ranfurly where I got a motel for the night and then headed into town for dinner.  I asked the nice man at the motel which place he recommended for dinner.  “Either is good.”  He said, meaning I had a choice of two.  One of the choices was in the main hotel for Ranfurly, and I meandered in there, but it looked too formal for someone who had been fishing all day, so I chose the less formal place.  Good choice.  They had a large screen TV (guess what was on….HOW did you know it was rugby?), draft beer, and very good food.  I’d forgotten to each lunch, so I had soup and the pasta with smoked chicken (the guy at the counter gave me a funny look when I ordered both, but that’s probably because I was American).    Just before dinner (sorry to backtrack), I went out to capture a few photos of the east side of the Rock and Pillar mountains (the west side is the rocky side) because the setting sun and storm clouds provided some amazing scenes.


The next morning I woke up to a very different day.  A cold front had come in overnight, and it was 5C when I got up.  I headed out to the confluence of two mountain ranges, the Lammerlaw and the Lammermoor Ranges (I couldn’t make this up), and here the Taieri River is formed.  There is supposed to be really, really good fishing here.  But, probably (this is in fine print, I’m sure), not when a cold front comes in.  I didn’t fish there long (I was cold, too), but the vistas were amazing.


I went back and explored the town of Naseby in a touristy sort of way.  It’s is a really cute, very small, historic town seemingly just out of the gold rush era.



I didn’t have too much time to spend there, but it looked like a fun place to sit down, have a beer or ice cream cone and talk about the good ole days (like yesterday, when the fishing was better).

Then it was back to Dunedin, and getting ready for work tomorrow.  But only a little more than five days until next weekend….


Published by dave clarke

I am different things to different people. Husband, father, doctor, teacher, friend, or if you're a fish, a fly fisherman. But really, I'm just a guy trying to learn about life, and if I'm lucky, maybe teach a little bit along the way. If I were a golfer (I'm not) I would be on the back nine of my life, or if I were a book, there would be more pages turned than not. Any yet, I'm far from finished creating chapters of my life. The goal of Next Chapters is inspiration, and I'm hopeful the traffic goes in both directions.

7 thoughts on “Everybody’s workin for the (Labor Day) weekend.

  1. Loverboy, Mike Reno (hometown icon). As a proud Canuck & 80’s child, pulling a blank on that one would have been worthy of lashes. Can you make my winning points airmile points? thanks.
    PS. that’s some nice countryside

    1. Anna, Not sure I knew you were Canada (enjoy your blog and your vision). If I had useful airline points, I’d give them to you (and hope you understand my sense of humor about Air New Guinea). When I planned to come to Nz, my friends back home (California) thought I was crazy. I was, but for not doing this earlier. There is so, so much to life once you move outside your ‘bubble’, even if your bubble is an amazing place (and the Bay Area in California is just that). I applaud your desire to reach out and try something new. Your adventure will take you places you’ve never dreamed (no script for this). And, thanks for following along… cheers, dave

  2. So, did you catch and release? Anyone else fishing in the same stream? You know, Ilene does not understand the release part as she thinks fish were meant to eat! Nice catch! Wish I could have been there, so I could know that the fish in the picture was the actual size and not altered in any way!! Ha!

    1. Released all the fish I caught, as I had a dinner of pasta and smoked chicken awaiting me. I’ll eat the fish, but only when there are no other dinner choices (backpacking); a friend once pointed out one of the nicest scenes to watch: a trout just released swimming away from you. You would love Nz. The net is 21 inches across, and the fish is bigger, as you see. Only me fishing in the stream; a few other fisherman in the reservoir (I was the only fly fisherman, and the only one who caught fish!). More, this upcoming weekend.

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