Alexandra is the heart of Central Otago and is situated at the junction of State Highway 8 and State Highway 85. It has the most extreme weather temperatures of New Zealand, recording the both the highest and lowest temperatures during the year. When we watch the TV weather news, we often exclaimed at the highs and lows which the town endures. Another claim it fame is that the first gold dredge was invented here in the 1890s, attracting world wide attention – Alexandra was a former gold mining town, like so many in the area.
The 1958 steel truss arch bridge carries traffic on SH8 across the Clutha River into the township. This type of bridge always reminds me of meccano sets which Robin told me he used to play with in his younger days.
Steel truss arch bridge at the entrance to Alexandra
Beside it are the remains of Alexandra’s first bridge, built by Jeremiah Drummey over 1879-82. When the current bridge opened in 1958, the townspeople insisted that the piers and towers of the old bridge be retained.
Remains of the old bridge still standing strong
Another interesting bridge in Alex seems to be a bit of a well kept secret. It is the known as the Shaky Bridge. Originally a vehicle bridge into Alexandra opened in 1879, it fell into disrepair and now serves as a footbridge. And yes, it is rather shaky to walk across, but you get lovely views along the Manuherikia River.
The Shaky Bridge
Selfie on the Shaky Bridge
When we drove into Alexandra the other day w noticed masses of schist rock everywhere. There is also plenty of this rock in town. Close by the Shaky Bridge we saw several houses built around some huge schist rocks. They are certainly making a statement as a garden feature!
Living with rocks in the garden
The white Alexandra Clock, at 11m in diameter can be clearly seen on the hill against the stark background. This was a Jaycee project involving many hours of voluntary work to install the components. It is is constructed of six vertical steel columns averaging 7.3m in length firmly supported in concrete foundations and fastened into the rock face with steel supports. At night the time can be clearly read up to eight kms away.
The Alexandra Clock on the hill
Alexandra is yet another town in the area which lost it’s railway services some time ago. We came across a painting on corrugated iron showing just how the railway station and goods yards looked all those years ago. Now instead of trains running, the Otago Rail Trail has been created using the bed of the rail lines and is a busy bike trail for keen cyclists. Rail Trail riding is such a popular pastime, and is breathing life back into the small towns in the area. Bike shops, cafes, and accommodation are all benefitting from the upsurge of cyclists riding the trails.
Painting of railway station on corrugated iron
We are enjoying our stay here, although we haven’t yet experienced any extreme temperatures yet. Our little camp is nice and peaceful, and has a small pond tucked away in the corner. There is a business selling firewood over the fence behind us, and people have been coming in loading up their trailers with firewood. Getting supplies in early well before the winter weather arrives.
Our camp at Alexandra