|Mt Harper Ice Rink
|17th July 2013
Aardwolfs Ice Hockey Club
Mt Harper Ice Rink
Lat: 43'41'15.30S Long: 171'01'53.99E Elevation 413M
|Go to Natural Ice Reports
|Mt Harper Ice Rink
|Contact Details: No longer operating
Exerts from an interview with Ruth Smith:
The Mt Harper ice rinks were built by a Mr and Mrs Wyndham- Barker, who with their own hands dug out the peat bogs, drying the bricks and storing them for the rink house later on. They dug drains, erected a powerhouse and other buildings and installed their own hydro- electricity supply. In the summer they crossed the river by boat and in the winter a drum-floated punt was used. Mrs Barker, usually arrayed in leather coat, sou'wester and gumboots, welcomed people with a megaphone as she propelled the punt across the river with a long pole and then drifted back to the waiting crowds. On one such occasion an expert swimmer from Timaru having possibly acquired a little too much "Dutch courage" on the journey, whilst impatiently waiting his turn and dared by his companions, suddenly flung off his outer garments and dived into the icy river. On reaching the other side he, no doubt, was completely sober, but won his bet. A swing bridge was erected later, but the vagaries of the river meant it had to be removed each year prior to the spring floods. Other skaters recall that if you were prepared to cart a bag of coal over to the Mt Harper rink, skating for the day would be free. For some time in the early 1920s Mt Harper was the only club in the area and many and varied means of conveyances headed towards the Ice Skating Mecca at the head of the Rangitata Gorge, the once-popular Mt Harper rink on on the northern banks of the Rangitata River above the gorge is all but forgotten today. Now all that is left are the old pipes from a generator, large shallow area and scrapings in the riverbed which once held the ice and collections of dilapidated buildings that possums have made good use of. For many, ice skating was an adventure that took a up the weekend or at best a full day. Mt Harper was not a rink to be used by the faint-hearted. It involved a rough ride across the riverbed and the crossing of the Rangitata River by a wire rope bridge, or raft. While Tekapo and Mt Harper were considered the main rinks, there were others at Mt Cook, Lake Ohau, Albury, and Mt Nessing, Speed was considered the hallmark of the champions in those days, with leaping over barrels or chairs a close second. And hockey, also; everybody played hockey, believing the hockey stick to be a good support as much as anything, The girls wore jodhpurs or skiing trousers at first, quickly graduating into the much- coveted short but not too short skating frock, usually adorned with fur around the hem, cuffs and neck, with matching pill box cap. People found books full of information, but trying to put it into practice without a guide, was a different matter. Although the roads were wicked people merrily set out with spades, sacks and chains and towing ropes, and always taking a raw potato with which to defrost the windscreen. When that had no effect the driver was obliged to drive with his head out the window. There was one occasion when a bus was stuck fast on one of the hills in the Rangitata Gorge on the way to Mt Harper. Having come from Christchurch the skaters just settled and stayed the night there. Anyone who visited Mt Harper would no doubt have heard of the battles with the river. Sometimes I have wondered if the spirit of Erewhon had set itself out to defeat all those who ventured into its realm.
Recommended reading James Maxwell's book: Discovering the Legends of Ice Skating. It's a collection of reflections on an era past that many would not be aware of today.
Source Article: here
More Information here from the DOC website
|Sunday 00th July 0000
Photos from the DOC website
|Crossing the Rangitata River on the pontoon bridge
|The Hockey Rink in use c1949
Video of the
Mt. Harper Ice Rink
Video from the The Mainland Touch News Programme
(courtesy of Jack Lyttle) from the NZIFSA
Google Location Map
Above: Mt Harper rink is unmarked on Google maps and
is about the middle of the map
Below: You can still see the lines that split up the rinks for the different activities at Mt Harper
|Some Photos Of the Old Mt Harper ice Skating Area as it is now:
Looking down onto the Mt Harper ice rink from the water race for the Pelton wheel.
Photo: M. Craddock, DOC.
The Barkers? house. The left-hand end functioned as skate hire and repair.
Photo: M. Craddock, DOC.
expressed on the page
above, may not reflect the views of the Aardwolfs Ice Hockey Club