Tuesday 15 January 2013


Proudly proclaiming itself as the Capital of Brown Trout Fishing, Gore's well known for its fish statue at the entrance to the town, above a fountain. One thing I bet most visitors don't realise - including especially that coach-load of Japanese tourists I saw unload by it this morning who took a quick snap and then ran across the road to the clearly far more interesting secondhand goods Hospice Shop - is that the fibreglass and steel statue was modelled on an actual trout, caught by local man Bert Harvey, and frozen so artist Errol Allison could get busy with it.

I learned that at the museum, half of which is devoted to Hokonui Moonshine. That's the local whisky, distilled by the Scottish immigrants from whatever they could lay their hands on,  especially throughout the 52 year-long dry period in the Gore district. Things got even worse in 1917, when 6 o'clock closing was introduced; so in order to get to nearby Mandeville, which was wet, long rows of taxis sat waiting in the main street for the men to finish work at 5pm. They would pile into the cars and hurtle to the next town and jostle inside the pub trying to chuck as much beer down their necks as possible before last orders at six. Horrendous.

The Mandeville Railway Hotel is now The Moth, an elegant cafe and bar next to the airfield where I had my flight yesterday in the Tiger Moth. Lots of old buildings round here have been rescued and given a new purpose in life, and we ate well tonight in one at little Ophir in Central Otago: Pitches, converted to a restaurant from a garage and butchery. Surrounded by bare brown hills with their bones showing through, and softened by bright hollyhocks, it's a pretty place, though with temperatures ranging from -22 to +35, you'd need to be rugged to live there. And that's not all: when I peered through the window of the tiny post office, I was surprised to see on the wall a poster showing how to identify a parcel bomb. Dang terrorists, they get everywhere.


Graham said...

Bert harvey was my late uncle so it's great to read your article and see him mentioned. He was a very good fisherman and often took overseas visitors out fishing who often came especially for the fishing

TravelSkite said...

Thanks for the contact, Graham. Sounds like Bert had an enviable life.


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