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Maniototo multi-turf project included in long-term planning
Maniototo multi-turf project included in long-term planning

14 April 2024, 5:30 PM

A proposed multi-turf project for Ranfurly will be consulted on as part of the 2025-34 Long-term Plan. The Maniototo Community Board met this month and discussed the Maniototo ward component of the 2024-25 fees and charges schedule for inclusion in the Central Otago District Council’s (CODC) Annual Plan 2024-25. The proposed turf and courts upgrade for the Maniototo Area School, expected to cost upwards of $900,000, was also discussed. Concerns had been raised about the safety of the aging turf in its current state, and what would happen should it be ruled as officially unsafe, meaning that Maniototo players would have to travel at least once a week for their games. A clear funding strategy for the new turf was yet to be agreed upon, however some progress had been made that would potentially include the disposal of three school properties, external fundraising through clubs, trusts and sponsorship as well as a council grant. After discussion, it was agreed in light of rates rises already signalled, that the presentation of a complete funding strategy and the proposed grant for the Ranfurly Multi Turf should be deferred for one year, so that council did not risk rating for something that might not occur until the following year. While the draft Maniototo Ward 2024-25 Annual Plan budget was agreed upon, it was decided that the grant be considered as part of the CODC's 2025-34 Long-term Plan. In the meantime, the community board has requested more information, analysis and time on the project before consulting.

Property listings hit near-decade high as house prices rise slightly
Property listings hit near-decade high as house prices rise slightly

14 April 2024, 5:15 PM

The level of houses listed for sale is up nearly 30 percent, to levels not seen since 2015.At the same time prices had gone up by 2.9 percent over the past 12 months, the latest Property Report by Real Estate New Zealand found.The national average asking price was just under $887,000, up $27,000 from March last year.Central Otago was the region with the highest average asking price in the country, the report said.While the West Coast had the lowest average asking price - which surpassed the $500,000 mark last month for only the second time in 17 years.Realestate.co.nz spokesperson Vanessa Williams told Morning Report the property market was very suppressed in 2023, with eight of the 12 months having the lowest listings on record for that month."There were interest rates, cost of living, but also it was an election year and Kiwis don't necessarily like to transact under uncertain times . . . now that we're sort of out the back of those, while interest rates are still quite high, inflation is coming down and the new governments in place, we've seen that flurry of sellers come onto the market."Average prices had also been relatively static for 18 months, sitting between $860,000-$890,000, she said.The lower prices and rule changes from the new government, were seeing investors coming back to the market, Williams said."We might see a bit of both; we might see investors looking to keep those properties because now financially they can work with the tax break, or we might also see an increase in supply because of the brightline test dropping back to two years."

Mayor's column: finding a sensible middle ground
Mayor's column: finding a sensible middle ground

13 April 2024, 5:30 PM

The older I get the more I adhere to the theory of the pendulum swing; being that things tend to veer between the extremes until they find a sensible middle-ground. I’ve been at an LGNZ meeting this week where the new fast-tracks approvals process for consenting infrastructure was a hot topic of discussion. If you don’t know about this, the thumbnail sketch is that there is a bill before Parliament right now that is designed to provide a one-stop-shop form of authorisation, that captures all necessary regulatory approvals, access permissions and public works proclamations (the red tape some may say) to take or deal with land, under more than 10 separate acts and regulations. It will also see three ministers (Bishop, Brown and Jones) able to approve infrastructure projects of regional or national significance through to an expert panel who then can make recommendations on the project that the ministers can take into account as much as they wish when making a final decision. And, that final decision cannot be appealed other than on questions of law. On the one hand, New Zealand has a terrible record for the cost of getting consent to do anything compared to other OECD nations. For instance, a very recent Bofa Miskell report to the Ministry of the Environment estimated that the consenting processes for waste water consenting plants can take both significant time (between 2 and 4 years) and cost (an average consent process would be in the order of $500,000 to secure). The way we do things currently is out of whack in my view and absolutely needs sorted out. We have all seen or heard of people or organisations who are barely involved or affected by a project having a disproportionate say in outcomes under the current regime, and often those people or groups have money behind them, allowing a disbalanced fight in the courts.  But on the other hand, the proposal puts a lot of power in the hands of just three people. So where is the sweet spot, the place where the pendulum balances progress unencumbered by unnecessary expense against the legitimate needs of the environment and of the people who are genuinely affected? Time will tell, but it may sit somewhere in between what we’ve got and what we might be about to get. If you want to know more and perhaps make a submission on the bill, details can be found at Fast-track Approvals Bill - New Zealand Parliament. Submissions close next Friday.

Bloke's Cooking class back by popular demand
Bloke's Cooking class back by popular demand

12 April 2024, 5:45 PM

Men will get a chance to improve their culinary skills when Central Otago Reap (CO Reap) launches another round of Bloke's Cooking next month.Bloke's Cooking is a free course, being offered in Alexandra and Cromwell, designed to give men the confidence to cook quick, nutritious meals from scratch.The course is designed for men who live alone, including those who want some guidance, or widowers who had previously been treated to meals with all the trimmings by their late wife.CO Reap educator Shona Bain said the course was first offered in the district last year, which was so popular that it made sense to bring it back for round two.She said it was designed to be hassle free, while giving men a chance to improve their basic cooking skills to ensure they were eating good nutritious food.Shona said it was also about teaching them how they can still eat well on a budget.“There’s quite a few of those [that have] suddenly got to work under a budget and food’s really expensive. Some of them are first time flatters, some have lost their wife, some just want to learn how to cook.”The workshops will be hosted by Marcanui, who will bring a wide range of skills to the kitchen.“He’s a great cook and relates really well to people, and he’s got a whole plethora of cooking that he’s going to introduce the men to,” Shona said.But, it won’t be a high paced pressure cooker, with fancy expectations.“It’s budget cooking,” Shona said.“It’s good, solid, basic nutritional meals.”The workshops are limited to 12 participants.“Our kitchen capacity is about 10, but because of the popularity of the course we squeezed a couple more in.”Shona said there had already been some interest so encouraged people to register soon to avoid missing out.The Cromwell course will take place over four weeks on a Friday from May 3 at the Cromwell Reap room, 19 Molyneux Ave, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.The Alexandra course will take place over four weeks on a Monday from May 6 at the netball pavilion at Molyneux Park, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.To register visit Adult and Community Education Categories - COREAP

New short film to raise alpine fault earthquake awareness
New short film to raise alpine fault earthquake awareness

12 April 2024, 5:30 PM

The Alpine Fault magnitude 8 (AF8) programme has launched a short film and campaign weaving together Matāuranga Māori and western science to strengthen peoples’ understanding of the alpine fault.The film ‘Kauraka e Mataku, kia Takatū’ (Don't be scared, be prepared) is to encourage whānau and communities to work together to be better prepared for natural hazard events and emergencies.Watch the short three minute film on YouTube here. Emergency Management Otago (EMO) team leader Central Courtenay Jamieson said the film was a great example of different groups and perspectives coming together with a common call to action, to be prepared.“The film tells the history of the AF8 and just like it’s previous ruptures have built our beautiful mountains and landscape, another impending rupture will again drastically change the land we live on. “Not only will the landscape be altered, but our way of life too with infrastructure, roading and communications likely to be down. The reality of the earthquake’s impact can sometimes seem overwhelming, but there’s also the important message - if we’re prepared, we’ll be ok, kia kaha (stay strong).”Courtenay said the film shows pragmatic simple ways to take action to be better prepared for when an AF8 earthquake hits, such as organising emergency supplies like water, food and grab and go bags. “[EMO] also recommends signing up to Otago Gets Ready for regional emergency alerts and to check out getready.govt.nz for more info on how to be prepared for an emergency.”The film was co-produced by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the AF8 Programme with co-sponsorship from Toka Tū Ake EQC.From next Monday (April15) EMO are running an online preparedness survey, and respondents can go in the draw to win one of five family sized grab and go bags.  On the AF8 website it states that scientific research indicates there is a 75 per cent probability of an alpine fault earthquake occurring in the next 50 years, and there is a four out of five chance that it will be a magnitude 8+ event.

2028 total solar eclipse in New Zealand likely big tourism drawcard, astronomer says
2028 total solar eclipse in New Zealand likely big tourism drawcard, astronomer says

12 April 2024, 5:15 PM

A Dunedin astronomer is so excited by the prospect of witnessing a total solar eclipse on his doorstep, he bought his house 10 years ago with a view of it in mind.New Zealand is set to experience its first total solar eclipse in decades on 22 July, 2028. The last one was in 1965, visible in a small part of Northland.Earlier this week huge crowds gathered across Mexico, the United States and Canada to witness the rare spectacle. In Niagara Falls on the US-Canada border, the sheer numbers forced officials to declare a state of emergency.Otago Museum director and astronomer Dr Ian Griffin is predicting the full solar eclipse here will also be a big tourism drawcard.He said it would track across the lower South Island, from Milford Sound to Ōtepoti Dunedin and it would occur around 4.15pm."Anyone who is on a line basically going through Queenstown and Alexandra - all those places in Central from Milford to Dunedin will be able to see what those folks in America saw [on Tuesday]. Of course it's the middle of winter and the sun will be low in the sky but that makes for some amazing pictures if we do get clear skies, so I'm particularly excited about it."Dunedin was planning to hold a Festival of Astronomy during that time, which also co-incided with Matariki, he said.Dr Griffin has travelled to Mexico and Pitcairn Island to witness solar eclipses. Photo: Supplied / Ian GriffinBut Griffin had his own personal plans."I bought a house 10 years ago right on the centreline of the eclipse and I intend to be sitting on my deck enjoying my view of the eclipse setting over the hills surrounding Dunedin and I really can't wait."Griffin said before the total eclipse in four years time, Aotearoa would also be treated to a small dress rehearsal on 22 September 2025."There's a really big partial eclipse of the sun which isn't total, but a lot of the sun will be covered. The sun will be rising and will look like a great big smile in the morning sky."The total eclipse which is set to pass over New Zealand in July 2028 will also track across Sydney along with other more remote parts of Australia.Dr Griffin said if the weather was good in New Zealand, that was where what he described as the "money shot" would be."If you're in Milford Sound the sun will be setting behind Mitre Peak - eclipsed, and that really will be a picture for the ages."He said the eclipse would be a big global event and while Dunedin was already starting to make plans, he believed the rest of the country also needed to get ready for eclipse chasers to descend on our shores.And he is a bit of an eclipse chaser himself.He has witnessed the second longest eclipse in history in Mexico in 1991, which was seven minutes in totality, and in 2019 he travelled to Pitcairn Island to watch a total eclipse there.Griffin described a total solar eclipse as "the most beautiful natural phenomenon on earth".

Problems with base of Alexandra Airport runway
Problems with base of Alexandra Airport runway

11 April 2024, 5:45 PM

Alexandra Airport’s $930,000 runway reseal has been delayed until next Spring-Summer after contractors told the Central Otago District Council it was at risk of cracking once resurfaced.A status report to council in March said Fulton Hogan had advised that there was now an issue with the existing base of the runway, and more investigation was needed into costs and requirements.The 1200m long by 30m wide chip sealed runway was first sealed around the mid to late 1980s and has not been resurfaced since.Users had expressed safety concerns about the deteriorating condition of the runway, and possible damage to their aircraft.Initial costs of $486,000 had been budgeted for the reseal in the 2022-23 Annual Plan, but due to Covid-19 and rising construction costs, the runway reseal then almost doubled in price. The extra funding for the shortfall came from council’s Alexandra Airport Masterplan, which had $900,000 earmarked for a new hangar precinct.In 2017, to meet the demand for hangar sites, the power supply capacity to the airport was upgraded, power and water reticulation installed to all sites and 700 metres of sealed taxiways constructed. In 2018 another five sites were developed with power and water connections and an additional 300 metres of sealed taxiways constructed.The hangar precinct proposal included establishment of water, power and wastewater services for the sites, a new gravel accessway from Letts Gully Rd, fencing and sealed taxiways.A new report to council will be presented in coming months, which will provide a financial update on the project in the Long Term Plan (2024-34).

New LGNZ leader helping put Central on the map
New LGNZ leader helping put Central on the map

11 April 2024, 5:30 PM

Central Otago was in a unique position to now have two local representatives on the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) executive from one council.Councillor Tamah Alley was recently appointed chair of Zone 6 - incorporating all of the councils from Waitaki south - including the Otago Regional Council, and replacing Bryan Cadogan.The Clutha District Mayor has announced this would be his last term, which brought about a vacant role for the rest of the term on the LGNZ executive committee. His brother Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan is also on the Zone 6 committee and the representative for the national council of LGNZ.“Central Otago is punching well above its weight in terms of representation on a national scale,” Tamah said.A former police officer, Tamah said she brings perseverance, patience and persuasion to her new role, and was not afraid to have serious conversations, “or hold the line to a point that needs to be made.”“It’s much easier to get things done in this world if you’re a collaborator rather than a bulldozer.”Her proven capabilities in high stress situations and managing big egos has already come in handy in the world of local politics, and in her new role as Zone 6 chair she’ll be mixing with many different personalities - from Invercargill City Mayor Nobby Clark through to new Queenstown Lakes Mayor Glyn Lewers.Her role will also involve supporting other elected members to work together, combining everyone’s strengths and knowledge, as well as further across the Zone 6 boundary - sharing information with representatives from numerous councils.“I think it’s really important that we build a community whereby lots of people want to stand to help democracy survive in our communities. And, that’s only going to work if we support people once they get there . . . so they don’t feel isolated and in the deep end."To hear more about the work Tamah is doing, listen to this week's The Outlet podcast.

SH6 between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier closed
SH6 between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier closed

11 April 2024, 12:20 AM

Central residents planning a trip to the West Coast are urged to take care after a deluge of rain left some West Coast roads impassable.While many roads are still open, people wanting to travel along State Highway 6 (SH6) south of Franz Josef, or up to Hokitika or Greymouth via the glaciers will need to reassess their trip.NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi (NZTA) has confirmed heavy rain overnight in south Westland has seen further damage at Smithy’s Creek on SH6, between Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.As a result, SH6 is closed from Franz Josef south to Haast today and overnight, with the section south of Fox Glacier to Haast being reviewed tomorrow morning at 10am.Smithy’s Creek and SH6 in the Fox Hills near Franz Josef earlier today. PHOTO: Supplied/NZTAThe section between the two glacier towns is likely to remain closed through the weekend and will be reassessed on Monday at noon.NZTA maintenance contract manager on the West Coast Moira Whinham said creek flows have breached the southern approach at the Smithy’s Creek box culvert overnight on Wednesday, with the continuous heavy rain.“Rain is forecast to continue all day today with periods of intense showers overnight again Thursday night.“While the rain continues to fall, crews are limited to minimising further damage and a full assessment of the damage at Smithy’s Creek will occur tomorrow (Friday) morning.”Rain is forecast to ease over the weekend and crews are on standby to start repairs as soon as conditions are safe for them to do so, Moira said.SH6 Haast to Makarora in Otago will also close at 7pm tonight (Thursday), due to surface flooding and ongoing torrential rain with high creek levels. It will be reviewed at 10am on Friday.To keep an eye on Central's forecast, click on The Central App's Weather button, or for roads click the Roads button.

Alexandra rider elated with win in Volcanic Epic MTB race
Alexandra rider elated with win in Volcanic Epic MTB race

10 April 2024, 5:45 PM

It was relief and elation in equal parts for Alexandra’s Mike Sangster when his team won the masters category in the Bay of Plenty (BOP) multi-day mountain bike (MTB) race, the ‘Volcanic Epic’. Mike together with Dunedin’s Jeremy Forlong in team ‘Specialised Structures - Off The Chain Cycles’ won each of the stages and overall, clocking up a total time of nine hours, 28 minutes, almost 30 minutes ahead of the next masters men’s team. Mike said their highlight was getting through the race with “no more broken bits or broken bodies,” as their experience was beset by several mechanical mishaps, accidents and lost bikes and luggage.“Going to the Taupo stage Jeremy’s bike fell off the back of the truck, it hit the road and the front of it was completely destroyed.”Jeremy, a bike mechanic with a bike shop, made do.“He rode the stage with no back brake, no suspension lock out . . . he cut the handlebars down by 100 millimetres, and the brake levers were stuffed.“He managed to get parts delivered to Rotorua, that night he had to rebuild his bike, and managed to get it going again 100 per cent for the next day in Tokoroa.”Mike riding in the geothermal area during the Rotorua stage. PHOTO: Supplied Mike’s bike had issues of its own with the battery in the back derailleur breaking, two kilometres into the last stage.“This meant I had no gears."Jeremy gave me his battery, ran back to the carpark, managed to find a [borrowed battery] then we had to ride our hearts out to catch back up.”The pair ended up catching a team who were nursing a flat tyre about one kilometre from the finish line.“It was a six-way sprint to finish the race, it was intense.”The masters men’s podium was Mike and Jeremy (middle), second place team Cloudyards Joe Skerman and Chris Hansen (on left), and third to the Volcanic Steamers V2.0 Mark Johnston and Dan Boulton. PHOTO: Supplied At the end of every stage they were presented with yellow jerseys.Pictured are Mike and Jeremy after a stage win. PHOTO: SuppliedMike said MTB stage racing in teams is a great adventure. “Racing is such a small part of the journey, you meet pretty cool people and get out there.”The Volcanic Epic race is 190km and entails nearly 5,000m of climbing over five days (April 3-7). Three hundred and fifty riders from 11 countries tested their skills and endurance on trails in the geothermal region of Rotorua, Taupō and Tokoroa. Mike said the trails were a mix of world class, well built single track in Rotorua, to forest and native bush and “old school” singletrack in Taupō. The final stage started in the tourist geothermal area with geysers and steam coming up out of the ground, and then finished in downtown Rotorua. The pair were a late entry into the event, deciding to get involved after a masters category win in The Prospector MTB stage race held in Alexandra and Earnscleugh (March 8-10).He said although the racing was intense in the Bay of Plenty, the climbs were shorter and the start time each day a bit later than The Prospector.Pictured are Mike and Jeremy during The Prospector. PHOTO: AuthenticAs“My body really feels better after the Volcanic Epic than The Prospector.”Mike and Jeremy arrived back in Dunedin on Monday night, to find that their bags and bikes had been accidentally left in Wellington.They were returned a day later by the airline.“[This trip] has been one of dealing with adversity.”Mike got involved in MTB events in 2016 and despite the string of challenges on this race, said he’s not slowing down anytime soon.“I work in front of a computer all day. [My motivation] is to go out, get in the fresh air and keep fit. Being in a team motivates you, you don’t want to be the slower one.”Read more: Conditional sale and purchase agreement for Matangi Read more: Fourth edition of “homegrown” Prospector race world class Read more: DHS student fastest individual in Prospector MTB race

Menacing dog causes concern in Ranfurly
Menacing dog causes concern in Ranfurly

10 April 2024, 5:30 PM

Dogs roaming a Ranfurly paddock where they allegedly mauled two sheep have been brought to the attention of Maniototo Community Board members.The issue was raised at the community board meeting last week, where members discussed their concerns, particularly around whether the two dogs - a mother and her pup - were being restrained correctly following the incident.The incident was reported to Central Otago District Council (CODC) team leader enforcement and animal control Ryan Parker, who has confirmed the sheep were euthanized due to their injuries.CODC assigns a service request for Animal Control to investigate such reports. In this instance, Animal Control was advised directly by the police, Ryan said.He confirmed the adult dog has been classified as menacing and was now required to wear a muzzle when it is off its property, or in a public place.Both dogs are of mixed breed, with the adult registered as a Catahoula Leopard cross.One community board member said the dogs have continued to roam since the incident.Maniototo Community Board chair Rob Hazlett was concerned if the owner did not follow the rules, the next victim could be a child.“If it’s the wrong time of the day, it gets hold of a kid, what’s going to happen?”Deputy chair Mark Harris agreed, noting the dogs in question were known to advance on people and bark.He said it would only take a young child to be approached by one of the dogs, which could terrify a young person, causing them to squeal, turn and run.“[Then] she’s all on.”Ryan urges anyone who notices a dog behaving aggressively to contact CODC and try to obtain photographic evidence of any offence if it was safe to do so.

High energy from youngsters at Alexandra Athletics prizegiving
High energy from youngsters at Alexandra Athletics prizegiving

10 April 2024, 5:15 PM

There were smiles for miles as the athletics season ended with a fast-paced games session, barbecue and prizegiving in Alexandra on Monday evening.Alexandra Athletics club members participated in a warmup, team baton relays and then tug of war by gender, culminating in a hard-fought battle with the adults.The warmup session was led by older tamariki and rangitahi. PHOTO: The Central AppAfter the games, the crowd headed to Alexandra’s Stadium Tavern for prize giving. Dunstan High School’s Mac Denniston, recently named in the New Zealand squad for the Oceania Athletics Championships in Fiji in June, was there to congratulate and shake hands with the club championship winners in each age group. Mac is in the F34 discus, javelin and seated shot put in Suva. He has had a great season winning three silver medals competing for Otago at the nationals in Wellington in March. He also threw two New Zealand records at the Otago Championships. Certificates, ribbons and trophies were presented by club patron Valmai Breen, and longstanding club president Norman Marsh. Pictured are (from left) Valmai Breen, award winners Olivia Delport and Mac Denniston. PHOTO: Image Central Mayson Kingi was awarded the competitive trophy, he won the boys age 12 high jump in the Otago Championships, clearing 1.55m. PHOTO: Image Central Alexandra Athletics team manager Kate Groundwater said the small club had punched above their weight during the season with strong results in the Otago Children’s Athletics Champs in Dunedin and the Colgate Games in mid-January.Organisers thanked the committee members, Alan Hamilton (Bones) for coaching, parent volunteers who made the Monday night training a success, and the sponsors for their contribution to the club. The club caters to social and competitive athletes from those aged under six to 19.  Athletics kicks off again in term four. It is run at the track at Molyneux Stadium on Monday nights from 5.45pm until 7pm. Read more: DHS student nabs three medals, two records at athletic nationals Read more: Alexandra Athletes shine in their field

A busy time for Central police
A busy time for Central police

09 April 2024, 5:30 PM

A 50-year-old Cromwell man was arrested by police on Jolly’s Rd last Sunday, and a search of his vehicle found numerous illegal items.Senior Constable Graham Perkins said police seized a loaded rifle, ammunition, meth utensils, knives, cannabis, scales, and multiple cellphones.He was taken into custody and appeared in the Dunedin District Court on Monday, charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of an offensive weapon, possession of utensils, and possession and supply of cannabis. The man came to police attention after a breach of his probation.Meanwhile, in the Teviot Valley, a 48-year-old man was brought to the attention of authorities by a friend after becoming concerned about his wellbeing.The man had intended to travel from Lawrence to Roxburgh, but was stopped by police at Raes Junction using road spikes, and was found in an agitated state.Alexandra Police were called to several reports of disorder in Alexandra on Saturday night, involving three teenagers.Snr Const Perkins said the disorder was focused around Clutha St and members of the public were also reporting suspicious behaviour on Facebook, regarding people coming onto their property between 9pm and 10pm.A young man (19) was assaulted by the three offenders who were 15 and 16, and one, who is known to police, has been dealt with through a youth plan.Snr Const Perkins said there were also reports of family members of the assaulted man, driving around the town looking for the offenders with a possible weapon.Cromwell Police were called for backup, but the people were not located. Snr Cons Perkins said police took a hard line on those attempting vigilante behaviour.An American tourist reported a vehicle passing him in the Cromwell Gorge last Thursday, while the driver aimed a pistol at him.The driver was located and a search found a range of bats, knives, sticks and an imitation gun in his vehicle. Snr Cons Perkins said it was possibly a road rage incident.

Clyde fire brigade carry the can for Leukaemia
Clyde fire brigade carry the can for Leukaemia

09 April 2024, 5:15 PM

Seventeen volunteer firefighters and support crew trudged 17km along the Lake Dunstan trail on Sunday, wearing full protective gear and carrying an oxygen tank weighing 25kg between them as a relay.Training for the annual Sky Tower challenge in mid-May, it started out with a small group from the Clyde brigade planning the inaugural event to act as a practice run, and then word got around to local brigades Alexandra and Cromwell, who joined in as well. Tim Paulin, Clyde station officer and the organiser of the event, said this year was kept small to make sure it was manageable, "but next year we’ll plan a much bigger and more ‘official’ event.”Some of the fire fighters started from the Hugo Bridge, with others joining along the track via the support boats from the Coast Guard and Scott Nevill. While the weather was mild, they were definitely sweating under all that heavy gear, fellow team-mate Tom Heath said.“It was tough at times, but a great team building event. We were all fully dressed in our protective gear and took turns carrying the oxygen tank for about 1km each and passing it on to the next member ensuring everyone got at least one turn carrying the ‘can’.”Volunteer firefighters making their way to Clyde on the Lake Dunstan Trail on Sunday.The trail was quiet at this time of year and the Coastguard acted as support crew, even running food supplied by local landscaping business Weka Landscaping at one point, along the trail. Tom said there were certainly some interesting looks from other track users, probably wondering where such a big group of firefighters were going on foot, but by stopping and explaining why they were there, the group managed to raise $200 in donations just on the track. The brigade thanks the support crew who made the day such a success including:The Clyde Coast Guard and Scott Nevill of Quality Irrigation Services for support boatsJJ Tractors Limited for supplying T shirts Weka Landscaping for suppling the food and drinkTony Haig who biked and supported the brigade while on trackContact Energy for allowing access over the damThe Brigade would also like to thank everyone who attended the recent Clyde Wine and Food Festival and donated during the event. They managed to raise over $1800 with proceeds going towards Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ. You can still support and donate to the Clyde Volunteer Fire Brigade team via its Sky Tower Challenge website. The team is training hard and looking forward to the Sky Tower challenge in Auckland on May 17.PHOTOS: Supplied

Hercules makes big scene above Central
Hercules makes big scene above Central

09 April 2024, 6:29 AM

Central Otago skies have been treated to a spectacle of Hercules proportions this week.A C-130H (NZ) Hercules, flown by Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) No. 40 Squadron, has been flying above the district over recent days, adding some rare activity to what is, usually, a relatively quiet airspace.The aircraft, which weighs more than 34,000kg, has been taking part in Exercise Skytrain, which provides scenario-based consolidation training for C-130H aircrews in low-level tactical flying, aerial delivery of equipment and threat avoidance.Defence Public Affairs senior communications adviser Dave Williams said Exercise Skytrain was supported by numerous RNZAF and New Zealand Army logistics regiment units.The Hercules has been taking part in a range of sorties over parts of Central this week. PHOTO: Defence ForceHe said it provided an opportunity for the units to build experience working in an unsupported location.Crews flew multiple sorties (missions) each day, which were put together based on a detailed intelligence picture with each flight providing support units to the battlefield, interlaced with threats from fictional opposing force.“Exercise Skytrain ensures that C-130H crews are trained to meet readiness requirements for tactical operations in war-like conditions, as well as maintaining delivery options in unfamiliar environments, which may be encountered during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.”Dave said Exercise Skytrain encompassed much of Central Otago, through to the Mackenzie Country, Hokitika, Timaru and Invercargill.In Central, air drop sorties were focused on three drop zones in the Ida Valley and Maniototo, near Ranfurly.“Central Otago offers a unique terrain and environment, which is different to operating areas close to our home base in Whenuapai in Auckland. This presents new challenges to crews in both their flight planning and sortie execution.”Air-land sorties, where the aircraft lands, loads and unloads personnel or equipment with engines running, flew into Wānaka, Alexandra, Omarama, Timaru and Invercargill.Training is scheduled to finish tomorrow.

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