Day 48 | Tapanui to Mataura

Mataura has a waterfall, and precious little else

Date: 17 March 2024

if you find yourself travelling south by car, bike, or even motorhome, today’s route is a great way to avoid the main roads. We didn’t take photos because it was damp – not raining but close – and we had a friendly southwesterly straight from the Antarctic blowing in our face all day, but it’s a lovely route with views and history you won’t find on the main roads. SH1 between Clinton and Gore is named the Presidential Highway, a dad joke from the 80s, no more amusing now than then, and we crossed it while deviating for a warming cuppa in Gore, to fuel the battle on to Mataura.

Poor unfortunate Mataura. In the 19th century it boasted a paperworks, dairy factory and freezing works and the falls in the middle of town were beginning to become quite a tourist attraction, but they were dynamited to provide more water for the local industry.

It’s worth making the effort to walk up the other side of the river from where, with a bit of trespassing, you get a view of the river and rapids emerging from under derelict warehouses like a scene from a Mad Max movie.

More recently the town became infamous for having vast amounts of toxic waste from the Bluff Aluminium Smelter stored in the now-defunct paper mill, right on the flood-prone river. (Now removed).

Check out the photo – this could/should be a tourist attraction in an otherwise dying town.

To paraphrase Flann O’Brien’s Third Policeman; as we went upon our way I was slightly glad that I’d been there.

Supplies: Mataura 4 Square

Accommodation: Mataura Falls Hotel

These videos are best viewed on a computer screen. Turning your phone sideways helps.

Total distance: 58.53 km
Max elevation: 234 m
Min elevation: 51 m
Total climbing: 705 m
Total descent: -834 m
Total time: 04:36:02
Download file: day48.gpx

Battery use: 89% | 560Wh


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