Haven at end of road to nowhere

Bob Carson (74), of Dunedin, has enjoyed the sun and the fishing at Lake Mahinerangi for nearly 30 years. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Bob Carson (74), of Dunedin, has enjoyed the sun and the fishing at Lake Mahinerangi for nearly 30 years. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
According to the map there is nothing there, but the locals call it a "home away from home".

The fishing village nestled on the banks of Lake Mahinerangi consists of about 35 cribs, the majority of which serve as holiday homes to keen fishermen and women.

Some were so taken by the area they made it their permanent residence.

Among them were Bruce and Georgina Dunstan, who bought their crib in 1987 and moved there from Dunedin in 1988.

They commute to Dunedin for work and their son goes to school at Lee Stream.

The "easy lifestyle" and, of course, the fishing was what they enjoyed most about living there.

The history of the area was also evident in their home, where treasures found whenever the lake level was dropped were displayed.

Among the collection of bottles was a tin whistle, a wooden pipe and a Chinese spice jar.

The lake, which is known for its brown trout and perch fishing, was created in the early 1900s when the Waipori River was dammed for a hydro-electric power station.

New plans for power generation were now upon the area, with TrustPower building a wind farm on the Lammerlaw Range.

But locals do not seem to mind.

Bob and Margaret Carson, of Dunedin, bought their crib in 1980 and loved escaping to the peace and quiet the community offered.

They also believed progress was inevitable and were relaxed about the project bringing more people to the seemingly isolated area.

"It couldn't happen in a better place. It blows up here," Mr Carson said with a smile.

He described the idea of a wind farm as a "novelty".

For the past 20 years, the couple had enjoyed spending weekends and holidays at the lake.

Keen fishers, they made the most of their boat and watched young families grow up in the community and continue to return as older generations passed.

Everyone took care of each other, not "living in each other's pockets", but just keeping an eye out, working together and sometimes getting together for a barbecue, Mrs Carson said.

Their spearmint-coloured crib, kitted out with SkyTV, a cellphone aerial and computer, acted as their "home away from home", she said.

"The only thing I miss up here is a paper."

Richard Griffiths was one of the children to grow up by the lake who still spent time there. His father built the family crib in 1968 as a fishing hut.

It had been added to about four times since then, he said.

Holidays, weekends and duck-shooting season saw him drive the hour from Dunedin to reach the lake.

But in the last two weeks of winter it was a no-go zone due to the cold.

"It's good to get away."

Road map
•Lake Mahinerangi was formed in the early 1900s when the Waipori River was dammed for a hydro-electric power station.

•40km west of Dunedin.

•35 cribs compose the lake's fishing village off Mahinerangi Rd.

•The lake is known for brown trout and perch fishing, as well as crayfish.