Sunday, December 23, 2012

Macetown: Abandoned Town

Chris likes abandoned, haunted towns just as much as me, so we borrowed MOM's car and hooned to Arrowtown, from which one can walk three hours along the old gold-mining trail to the historic town of Macetown. Macetown is dramatically placed in what I consider to be classic arid Central Otago landscape, at the feet of a range of snow-capped mountains. The town itself has some buildings still in tact, and a ghost who walks around the longdrop when I'm in there alone at night drunk.

We camped at Macetown for two nights, and on the day between we went for a ramble up the valley to a dwelling aptly called "Derelict Hut", where we joined the dozens of people who had scratched their names into the ancient wooden walls for posterity. The valley is carved out by an alpine river, we had blazing sun all day and I attempted to face my fear of heights. Note me lying on the edge of that cliff thing below, pretending to smile. Chris, on the other hand, danced around like a mountain goat and I didn't watch (NB: We also saw a family of actual mountain goats, including a tiny baby, balancing on some rocky cliff faces. There are no photos, because we were hopping up and down with excitement and trying to convince those guys to be our friends). 

Above: a very old sign. 

These photos don't do Macetown justice, as most of the time Chris and I were too busy looking around in awe and harping on about how perfect it is (a la St Bathans). On the way back, we walked the alternative route via "Big Hill." Schlepping myself and my pack up Big Hill was one of the few times I have genuinely believed I might not physically be able to achieve something, and Chris joked, once we neared the summit, that it was probably named by someone similarly exhausted and as half-dead as us:
"What should we name this hill?" someone asks, and the unfit, gasping person replies "I don't care. Big Hill." 

Most people take a 4WD trip to Macetown and I hear in summer the place can be positively over-run with these day-trippers. The 4WDs cruised past us, wading through one of the 27 river crossings, and the tourists inside stared at us in horror. Then one of them used the long-drop and stole our toilet paper. Luckily, we had spares, but seriously!!! Who. Does. That. They would be back at their hotel in Arrowtown within the hour - meanwhile, we were out in Macetown for the next 48 hours or so. Anyway. Day-tripping fools. In any case, I recommend this trip in the off-season, which is when we did it; we had the town almost entirely to ourselves. I also do, after all, recommend the alternative route on the way back - coming over the ridge to alpine views stretching from Arrowtown to Queenstown was well worth the near-death experience. 

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