Camp Road

Camp Road

Before 1873 the harbour road from Dunedin stopped at Company Bay.  From there a bridle track joined up with Camp Road in Broad Bay. The paper road had been ‘surveyed’ with no obvious regard to the topography! 

The Camp Road bridle track climbed steeply: a 1:7 gradient from sea level to 300m on the high road at Pukehiki. It passed by Larnach’s first cottage ‘The Camp’ situated below the present gateway to his ‘Castle’, designed by Lawson and built between 1870 and 1874. The ballroom was added in 1886.

All the interior and some of the exterior building materials, sourced from overseas, arrived by ship at Port Chalmers and were punted across the harbour to the Broad Bay jetty. They were then hauled up the Camp track on oxen-drawn sleds and bullock wagons (Otago Peninsula, local history by Hardwicke Knight). I recall seeing the ‘Herculaneum Italian marble bath’ on the side of the track serving as a cattle trough! Later it was returned to the Castle’s bathroom.  A whaler’s blubber-rendering pot is still to be found along the track and was also used as a trough. The late Ian Wilman would often lie down in the adjacent paddock, his sheepdog by his side, waiting for his diesel pump to fill his water troughs and the farmhouse water tank.

When we first walked up the Camp track in 1986 there was a farm at the Broad Bay end and Ian and Dorothy Wilman’s farm below Larnach’s Castle.  It was a steep grassy track all the way. In the 1980s the DCC had bought land adjacent to the paper road in order to install a sewage treatment plant at the bottom of the Camp track. Once that was completed, the land was auctioned in five lifestyle blocks of varying sizes.  We became kaitiaki of the top 10-acre block in 1987.

Our house was designed by Hendrik Koch and built by Mike Sims and Grant Yates.  Graeme Helm was able to make a road access to the building site with his large earth-moving machine.

On 2 February 1998 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first European settlers arriving in Otago and Southland, the Mayor, Sukhi Turner, arrived by boat from Dunedin and disembarked at Broad Bay.  She was taken by horse-drawn dray up Camp track to Larnach’s Castle accompanied by happy walkers and riders in period costume.

Camp Road has been renamed Camp Street.

By Penny Dickson

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