A self-drive tour of the Waipara Gorge is full of interesting surprises. A 15-minute drive from Amberley on the Mt Brown Road takes you to 707 Ram Paddock Road and Iron Ridge Quarry, a sculpture park with a setting like no other. One feels as if you have entered another world with superb views and a sense of tranquility. Raymond Herber will demonstrate his unquestionable skills in creating not only larger sculptures but smaller handy pieces for any home, at 10 am each day, while you enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Good walking shoes are recommended to view some of the sculptures beautifully placed in this very natural setting.
From Iron Ridge Quarry drive inland to Karetu Downs (1731 Ram Paddock Rd). This is an interesting garden on the banks of the South branch of the Waipara River where lunch is served. There is a complete farmyard of animals to enjoy and a wonderful shop. Karen and Bruce Forrester will talk about how the concretions were formed and a brief history of the area. Very few places in the world have fossils carbon dated 60 million years old as in this valley! A 20-minute walk downstream on flat land to the junction of the north and south branches of the Waipara River, is where these magnificent concretions are. There is something very magical about seeing them in their own environment. This is a special kindness of Karen and Bruce in allowing people to explore the concretions as there is no Queen’s Chain on the Waipara River, it is private property.
Another 15-minute drive continues past MacDonald Downs until you turn right onto the Broxton Rd which is one of North Canterbury’s hidden treasures. Take your time to enjoy magnificent views of the Hawarden plain rising to the Southern Alps with Mt Te Koa taking centre stage. Pyramid Valley Rd is on the right, where Waikari is signposted. There will be a welcome at 675 Pyramid Valley Rd (1st on the right) with afternoon tea and a talk by palaeontologist Richard Holdaway, at 3pm each day, on the history of the moa swamp which you can see from the homestead. There have been many excavations and many exciting discoveries in the swamp, which holds the well- preserved history of the last 5000 years in the area. Mike and Jan Hodgen will generously share this intriguing place. Walking here is also an option amongst wonderful limestone formations and early rock drawings.
There is one tour each day Friday Oct 30, Saturday Oct 31 & Sunday Nov 1. The tour includes entry to all gardens, morning tea and coffee, lunch and afternoon tea. This tour includes driving on well-maintained shingle roads suitable for all cars.
Cost $95 per person. Limit of 50 visitors per day.
Please note: upon purchase you will be sent an electronic ticket. You must print this and present it at each garden. If your tickets don’t turn up in your inbox please check your spam folder. Tour tickets close Monday 26th October to allow for catering.
Ticket sales close at 5pm on Monday 26th Oct.