Bruce Comfort
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I'm a retired engineer. I ride a 400cc Suzuki Burgman motorscooter and I live in Oamaru, South Island of New Zealand. I have two adult daughters. My interests (if you haven't worked it out) include New Zealand's heritage of engineering works, snapshot photography of the built environment and recording pastoral farming activities around here. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLEASE NOTE THAT MANY PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PANORAMIO SITE HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY ACCESSING HERITAGE BUILDINGS, STRUCTURES, AND ENGINEERING ARTIFACTS WHICH LIE ON PRIVATE LAND. PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS SITE DOES NOT IMPLY ANY PUBLIC RIGHTS OF ACCESS. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLEASE ALSO NOTE THAT A FEW PHOTOS ON THIS SITE ARE NOT MINE, AND THAT MANY ARE TAKEN INDOORS AND ARE OF MACHINERY AND THAT THIS APPARENTLY CONTRADICTS THE TERMS OF USE OF THE PANORAMIO WEBSITE. I HAVE HAD THE SITE MODERATORS' APPROVAL FOR USING THE SITE THIS WAY AS ALL SUCH PHOTOS LINK IN SOME FASHION TO MY OWN PHOTOGRAPHS OF PLACES IN NEW ZEALAND WHERE ARTIFACTS OF ENGINEERING OR PASTORAL OR INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE CAN STILL BE FOUND. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MY INTENTION IS NOT TO USURP THE RIGHTS OF THE HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHERS NOR OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS, AND CREDIT IS GIVEN WHERE I CAN. I have made an endeavour to contact copyright holders of material published on these pages and where appropriate, permission is still being sought for these items. Where replies were not received, or where the copyright owner has not been able to be traced, or where the permission is still being sought, I have decided, in good faith, to proceed with publication. I would be happy to hear from copyright owners at any time to discuss usage of item. IF YOU GO TO THE PLACES WHERE MY OWN PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE BEEN ACCEPTED BY THE MODERATORS TO BE IN THE PHOTOS LAYER ON GOOGLE EARTH, MY HOPE IS THAT THE OTHER HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPHS (which will not have been accepted by the moderators of Google Earth but which appear on these pages) WILL STIMULATE YOU TO THINK ABOUT THE ENGINEERS, ENTREPRENEURS, INVESTORS, THE WORKERS AND OPERATORS AND ALL THE PEOPLE, NOW GONE, WHOSE LIVES WERE INEXTRICABLY TIED TO THESE PLACES AND THESE ENDEAVOURS. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MY E-MAIL ADDRESS IS AND I WELCOME INPUT INTO THIS WORK -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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In this telephoto shot you can see the Pareora River Dam and the trace of the old water race across the front of the spur where a walking track now makes the area accessible to the public. The dam is dangerous and as recently as 2005 a young woman was drowned when she was captured by the flow over the dam, in the pool below. At the far right of the pic you can see a section of the race that was lined with/constructed from concrete from its inception. There is an interesting web page at ( on that page a link to a Video made recently by a combined NZHPT and Timaru Museum group - featuring the race. Both the video and the Rootsweb web page perpetuate the impression that the race was something like 27 miles long (the number varies widely!! and often flamboyantly) - it was surveyed at just over 17 miles and will have been as long as it was surveyed - unless the digger disputed the work of John Thomas Thompson, the surveyor.

This cottage, which was made substantially from cob (mud plaster reinforced with straw and forced into a generally wooden formwork, in situ) was burned to the ground in 2008 after being disused and unloved for many decades. Photo courtesy The Timaru Herald. New Zealand.

The Timaru Borough Race only had one raceman who lived in a cottage up in the downlands about halfway along the race, in Adair Road and the flow was not controlled at the intake, consequently the race will have often delivered more water than was needed (at least in its early years as the township population was growing) Good provision had to be made to divert excess water and these structures (which appear to be original ie 1880s) will have been used by the Borough (water supply staff) to divert overflow into a nearby creek or off towards town (straight through after screening) to??? maybe some pasturelands irrigation - as I say not fully researched!

At the left and centre of this pic you can see wastewater channels, but the flow through the concrete structure to the right (a screen chamber?) appears to be piped away. Perhaps to another stream so as not to overload one, or perhaps to be used somewhere as irrigation or process water at no pressure. A little mystery.

One block in the centre of this photo shows drill holes where it was either quarried or split. The material came exclusively from seven or nine small quarry pits in the creek gully which now makes up the Timaru Centennial reserve 300 metres to the North of the reservoir site.

Lava (basalt) from Mt Horrible flowed towards the East and the sea and numerous lava escarpments tower over the creeks and streams running seaward off Mt Horrible. In general, this basalt is columnar crystaline and deeply cracked and weathered making it suitable for quarrying without the need for explosives. In some cases the columns are of very large diameter and rock from these quarries finds use as river and ocean protection works and in other cases the columns are about 400mm "round" These columns will have been sought for lining this reservoir as they require less input to get them to useable size.

Each of the many hundreds of poured in place slabs that make up the protection of this reservoir has been plastered to a fine finish and a thickness of around 30mm. Thousands of hours of plastering and troweling! This reservoir was built about 1911 at the same time that the whole open water race was abandoned and the supply piped to Timaru along the same easement (essentially) and from a source higher up the Pareora River. The water was initially directed to these two reservoirs and the No2 reservoir was still in use in the 1960s but decommission after then (date unknown) The mains supply trunk pipework around both reservoirs is still "live" apparently right up to the shutoff valves.

I'm not sure if the floor of the reservoir is concreted - it may have been just puddled clay (Loess) The extant drawings of the 1910-11 works do not make it clear.

Looking down the screen chamber of the No2 reservoir. The pool at the bottom is at the level of the reservoir floor. I expect that these screens filtered the water moving from right to left and that this and a similar chamber upstream would, when the reservoir was full, have been full to the top with the water just passing through. The filters appear to be perforated zinc in wooden (cedar?) frames. It is interesting to speculate what sort of arrangement of valves and sluices were constructed at the base of this chamber and in others, to allow the water flow to be interrupted and the filters cleaned - as they surely must have been?

Unless it is off site, there appears to have been no sand filter - but this is not a fully researched description of this civil work.

Land adjacent to the Pacific Ocean has a slightly more benign climate than land further away from the sea, and vegetable crops are harvested from lands just metres away from the beach. North Otago has a very interesting geological history and small volcanic cores of black weathered basalt extruded up through a limestone base and a covering of Loess have contributed to a local friable and rich dark soil that supports intensive cropping of vegetable plants. Further inland where the soils are more alluvial and "normal" but still highly fertile, cropping of grains, brassicas, flowers (for seed)dominated where moisture levels would support these activities. In the dryer, elevated downlands, sheep farming (dryland farming) used to dominate the pastoral activities but with the advent of one or two massive irrigation schemes where water is pumped uphill from the Waitaki River, intensive dairy farming enterprises dominate the landscape.

On the vegetable growing lands crop rotation is continuous and it is unusual to see any of the worked plots lying fallow. There is however, clear evidence, especially when looking down from elevated positions, that the area(s) under intensive vegetable farming are now less than half what would have been the once cultivated.

The land between Oamaru and Kakanui, on the seaward side of the main highway, has been a vegetable growing area for over 100 years.

Mainly but not exclusively owned and worked by second generation Cantonese Chinese families from the Kaiping and Toisan area (See Yip clans)this area of dark brown volcanic soil known locally as Tar Soil has produced green vegetables and potatoes for local and national markets.

Patterns of vegetable growing have altered radically since the middle of the 1900s and not as much land is now under cultivation as was previously, and the number of families involved in the enterprise has diminished.

Still enough Chinese families live and work in the area to support a reasonably vibrant branch of the New Zealand Chinese Association and the local school Totara Primary School, is visibly proud of the Chinese heritage of lots of its past and present pupils.

Here the raised form of the reservoirs becomes more obvious, however they are also dug into the surface, with the floor of the reservoir being approximately as far below grade as the rim is above. In this method of construction, the excavated material is used in the bunds. The design drawings do show the bunds to have an impervious clay core but to what extent that was carried out cannot be seen. The small corrugated iron shed on the East rim covers the deep concrete shaft that housed the outlet valves. The shafts that hold the valves to control flushing and run off are housed at grade level near the berm. The concrete structure is an access pit to inspect the overflow culvert which runs some 400 metres below ground in 450mm earthenware pipes to a diversion and grate structure (picture VVVV) at ground level near a small creek which obviously took flushing and overflow flows.


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