Explorers / Miners – Invincible Mine

“On a Mish” #227 Miners / Explorers. Invincible Mine. Whakaari Conservation Area. 19.11.2011. In New Zealand most of the country’s rugged interior was explored by hardened surveyors, looking to make a buck or two, but always blown away by the beauty to behold in the mountains.They had to love what they did for a job, as untracked travel through New Zealand’s wilderness is always a tough job. Some of the surveyors would go on to be among the country’s most famous explorers, with many landmarks such as mountains, rivers and lakes bearing their names. As tough as the travel was, the surveyors weren’t the only ones wandering amongst the awe-inspiring scenery…

The Maori were the first to discover the natural gifts that Aotearoa provides to those willing to explore the mountains in the form of Pounamu (Greenstone). Along with Pounamu the movement of the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate created other precious stones, so with dreams of finding their fortune, miners also joined the surveyors in the wild areas of Aotearoa.

Some of my favourite adventure stories are of explorers/miners wandering into the blank spaces on early maps, in search of the riches on offer to those willing to find them. Along with the discoveries of pounamu and gold, they also uncovered the steel-hardening substance tungsten which is found in scheelite.

The mountains that tower over Glenorchy at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu are rich with the precious material, and the remains of this once booming industry are still visible. A great place to explore the mining history of the area is by visiting the relics of the once very busy Invincible Mine, located in the picturesque Rees Valley.

I have visited the area many times, and on one occasion back in 2010, I camped on the slopes of Muddy Spur, located just north of the Invincible Mine. I have been fortunate to have had excellent sunny weather on my visits, and on the mission to the mine in the pictures, we came across a rather large movie set.

Along with my friend from France, I also had my parents visit during the start of the 20112012 guiding season, and a plan was made to visit Glenorchy. We began our journey north of Lake Wakatipu with a visit to Paradise (actual name of location), and the area was busy with the filming of ‘The Hobbit’ movies.

We stopped to marvel at the scale of the filming operation, and to take some pictures of the Dart River. Once we got back to the car we decided to head over to the other side of the Pikirakatahi / Mt Earnslaw Massive, and head to Invincible Mine for a hike. Just after we started to drive I realised I didn’t have my camera. We came to a stop, and to my surprise I found my camera on the roof of the car, after we had driven a couple of kilometres! The hike up to the mine was excellent, and exploring the remains of the mine in the sun was a great way to spend a couple of hours.

We got back to the car and travelled further up the road to make a u-turn. It was during this short drive I realised I didn’t have my camera again. After finding a place to park I jumped out of the car to once again find my camera sitting on the roof of the car!!

Rees Valley from Invincible Mine

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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