Autumn Update

While Covid certainly had an effect on accommodation venues, and residents of the village – we have bounced back! Hayes Café and the whole Heritage area down Hayes Lane (1 km south of the township) is busy as it has ever been. The Café producing great Coffee and amazing food, made daily on the premises.

Again, in 2023 there will be another Writer’s retreat. 30 aspiring writers have signed up for the September event.

If you do stay for a day or more (advised), be prepared to be captivated by the topography, scenery, and the dry (= low humidity) climate. You can’t get much further inland.

Machinery doesn’t rust down here! Many have visited, only to be seduced by the area, and have ended up living here! Beware.

At the moment (February to April), lots of cyclists coming through and competing in the Sounds to Sounds event. It’s not a race – but rather demanding hills and streams to be tackled.

Writers Retreat a Great Success

Oturehua has just hosted the inaugural Writers Retreat. What an amazing event! A host of nationally recognised – and in many cases internationally recognised – local writers, poets and film producers ran two full days of sessions to enlighten and elucidate both promising and already well-established folk, who jumped at the chance to hone their skills.

Brian Turner (former poet laureate amongst other claims to fame) and other talented colleagues who all reside in the wee village of Oturehua, put the idea out there around April 2019. Within a month of advertising the Rough Ridge Writers Retreat, 50 plus souls had signed up. Some from the North Island, and one from Australia.

The local Oturehua Railway Tavern did a superb job of catering for all meals, and due to the proximity of the rail trail, accommodation was readily available within 100 to 500m of all the workshop venues. For a village with a population of around 40 people – we sure punch above our weight!

A rather cool start to the Saturday sessions with a frost of minus 5.5°C, was followed by a beautiful blue cloudless day, with a Graham Sydney picture perfect scene of the snow-capped Hawkdun range to the north. After the Saturday evening meal, participants were entertained by internationally renowned illusionist, Declan Wong. Saturday night ended with lots of hardy souls gathering around the Crows Nest brazier, fortifying themselves with beverages, and singing along to Josh on the guitar.

Bloody marvellous!

writers retreat

WAGs Wanted…

Help – the garden is getting on top of us!

We could do with a couple of people to help us out by gardening (read: pulling out weeds) for 2-3 hours daily for a few days or so. Minimal gardening skills required! In exchange, the WAGs (Weeders and Gardeners) will stay in the backpackers’ lodge for nix – all bedding and towels provided, plus a continental breakfast.

beautiful blooming blossom blur

Photo by Leigh Patrick on

Why not incorporate the stay into your adventure along one of the top cycle trails in NZ – the renowned Central Otago Rail Trail? Check out some of the local attractions while you are here. It’s only a 200m walk for a pint at the local pub, or you can enjoy a pie while you step back in time at the historic store, then trundle down the road to the Hayes Engineering works and have a damn fine coffee at Hannah’s Café.

Of course, you can use this opportunity to just relax and do a spot of resting, reading, and sun-bathing. Not today though, since we have just had a fresh dusting of snow. Two days ago the temperature was 26 degrees C – today it has dropped to 2 degrees!

Anyhow, I digress. If a free holiday in exchange for a bit of garden work sounds like your thing, then drop us a line to see if we can come up with a cunning plan! Hmmm, “dropping a line” is a bit old-fashioned – not to mention slow.
Best to phone Bill on 021-366 012.

Blossom Festival a Great Success

The annual Alexandra Blossom Festival took place at the end of September, with record numbers of over 15,000 people coming along to enjoy the celebrations! There were great displays of floats, trucks, and classic cars to mark the arrival of Spring.

The weather was perfect, and the blossoms were magnificent. This is a unique event that has been celebrated for 63 years now to recognise not only the change of season, but also the importance of community spirit. Alexandra Primary School won the prestigious people’s choice category with its colourful “Jurassic Park” float.

blossom float

Photo credit: Gerard O’Brien (Otago Daily Times)

Now we are into the school holidays and generally warmer weather, the traffic on the Rail Trail is increasing.  Spring has sprung – but we are still getting the odd frost at night. The upside of a chilly night is that it is almost always followed by a glorious day with the hills still wearing a mantle of snow.