Repairs reconnect lavender farm with world

Barry and Jo Todd are pleased the Danseys Pass Rd has reopened so they can welcome visitors back...
Barry and Jo Todd are pleased the Danseys Pass Rd has reopened so they can welcome visitors back to their Danseys Pass Lavender farm and shop at the peak of the lavender season.PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
When you live in Danseys Pass, you have to be prepared for anything and take whatever happens on the chin, Jo and Barry Todd say.

After flooding closed Danseys Pass Rd for almost a month at the peak of the lavender season, Mr and Mrs Todd were pleased to finally be able to welcome visitors back to their lavender farm and shop this week. The Waitaki District Council reopened the road on Monday.

The couple started Danseys Pass Lavender on their 4ha property in 2009 and had seen it all living in remote North Otago; they had been snowed in, and flooding had taken out bridges on either side of their home in previous years.

They did not get too stressed about having no customers for almost a month — they had started the business as a way to keep busy as they reached retirement age.

Mr Todd was a landscaper and gardener by trade, and his wife was also a passionate gardener — and they knew lavender thrived at altitude.

They had started with about 1000 plants and no idea what to expect.

"We just opened the door, put up a sign along the road and painted the gates purple — and the people started coming," Mrs Todd said.

"We have just, really, been blown away."

They now had about 2500 plants, which produced enough oil to make the various products they sold in their shop.

Living in such a remote area, it could be easy for the couple to feel shut away from the world, but the business had brought the world to them.

"There wouldn’t be many places in the world that we haven’t had somebody [visit] from," Mr Todd said.

Being on "kind of an iconic road", a lot of people stumbled across them by accident.

Before Christmas, visitor numbers had been down because of border restrictions, but they had picked up again before the road closed.

"It was looking like it was going to be a reasonably good season," Mrs Todd said.

"Plenty of people, lots of New Zealanders travelling around — then boom, the road got closed."

They had had no idea it would take almost a month for the road to reopen, but praised the Waitaki District Council for moving as quickly as possible.

Council roading manager Mike Harrison said the flooding had resulted in slips and deep scouring in several places along the road. A culvert had also been washed out on the Central Otago side of the pass.

"We had a lot of water running ... down the hill, down the roads, so that created very deep scours, some of those were up to 500mm, 600mm deep."

Other roads remained under caution with speed restrictions in place, which Mr Harrison urged motorists to obey.

"It might not look overly obvious, but there is a reason why the signs are there."

He expected the clean-up would still take at least another two weeks.


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