From the ed­i­tor


As ru­ral- based busi­ness sto­ries go i t had all the mark­ings of a slick city- based PR campaign about it. Sure the farm­ers pic­tured were the usual rag- tag mix of wild- haired, ruddy- faced ‘ South­ern Men’ look­ing spec­tac­u­larly un­com­fort­able in front of a cam­era lens. But the mes­sage came through loud and clear... all these poor blokes wanted was a fair go. Never mind that all were at least mil­lion­aires, and one – in terms of as­sets any­way – was well on his way to multi ( mil­lion­aire) sta­tus. They were in the paper because they had a plan; to turn the hith­erto over­looked Macken­zie Coun­try into prime dairy pas­ture... and that plan had hit some sort of en­vi­ron­men­tal or bu­reau­cratic road block. To which, de­spite my re­cent ed­i­to­rial pro­mot­ing the com­ple­tion of a loop road around the tip of the Coro­man­del Penin­sula as well as a road from Haast to Mil­ford, I say thank bloody good­ness. I have been rid­ing and driv­ing through ‘ The Macken­zie’ on and off for over 30 years now and I don’t think there ever has been a time when my heart didn’t soar as I dropped down from the Tekapo rise into i ts tawny and in sum­mer bluetinged em­brace. In i ts lovely, lonely, low stock number nat­u­ral state i t is in sharp con­trast to the patch­work quilt of high in­ten­sity crop­ping on the Can­ter­bury Plains to the east and the eye- sear­ing emer­ald green on the other side of the Old Man and Old Woman Ranges to the south. With so much wa­ter sluic­ing past thanks to the var­i­ous hy­dro schemes I sup­pose i t was only a matter of time be­fore canny dairy en­trepreneurs started sniff­ing around the place. And sadly, the last time I was down there ( with Toy­ota in Novem­ber last year) ir­ri­ga­tors were al­ready in ev­i­dence at the Omarama end of the high plain. I know money talks and there’s plenty of money washing around in the dairy in­dus­try at the mo­ment. I also ac­cept that some peo­ple can’t sim­ply see a piece of bare or sup­pos­edly un­de­vel­oped land and not see an op­por­tu­nity. But hell, what price some plain, sim­ple old soul- set­tling soli­tude? It ’s what, af­ter- all, so many tourists from countries far more pop­u­lous ( and de­vel­oped) around the world come here for. And – bar the fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory, seas of gor­geous wild lupins, cool, old­skool Round­hill ski field, Mount John Ob­ser­va­tory, and ( on a good day) mil­lion dol­lar view across the turquoise wa­ters of Lake Pukaki to Ao­raki/ Mt Cook – it’ s also why when I am trav­el­ling by road south, I al­ways make a point of de­tour­ing via ‘ The Macken­zie. It ’s cer­tainly not to stare out the win­dow at the another bloody dairy farm!

NZ4WD ed­i­tor Ross MacKay.

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