Although we worked in Cromwell, we lived a bit further away – in Bannockburn- the heart of the desert.
The Bannockburn region has a rich and interesting history, spanning from the goldrush days of the 1800s through to its current status as one of the countries premier wine growing regions.
Its uniquely warm, dry climate earned it the name 'The heart of the desert', as climatic conditions and human activity have combined to strip the area of most of the original native vegetation leaving rocks, sands and soils exposed. Today, these climate conditions make Bannockburn the perfect place for vineyards and stonefruit orchards. It’s no secret that New Zealanders are wine fanatics. They take great pride in their grape-growing regions. I was surprised to see so many vineries in this area.
This township as many others originaly was a gold mining town. The area was first made known as a rich gold field and was mined extensively in the 1860s. The one thing I would suggest to visit is Gold sluicing area. Take your water bottle and hike through the desert. We chose to do it in a Christmas day. And it was the hottest day that summer. So I almost fainted from the heat. But other than that the views are breathtaking. I can't even imagine how this place looked before people started to change the landscape. Also you can see a lot of rabbits runing around witch is pretty fun.
We lived in Bannockburn Domain Camping Ground. The moment we arrived I felt something special about this place. Maybe it was the overall vibe or maybe Camp Managers Janes friendly smile. But we decided to stay there. That was the same day we found our job. It was actually the second time we had done both in one day - finding a job and a place to stay.
Bannockburn offers a peaceful atmosphere, where you are free to unwind and to experience its beautiful landscapes and just relax. Although it’s not that far from the green Cromwell, the dominant color here is sand yellow, because it really is desert.
If you walk up the streets you can even, see Cromwell and lake Dunstan. People who live here has stunning views from their windows. Vineyards, hills, cherry orchards, deserts and city lights far away.
Bannockburn have a big place in my heart, not just because we lived there for 5 months (a long time for a backpacker to be in one place), but because of the wonderful people we met in our motor camp. Camp Manager Jane and Her Hubby Scotty, and our Kitchen guard Keith, sweet Ann and Russel and Tracy. They were our kiwi family and we love and miss them every day.
Even the neighbour who sold eggs and another one uphill who sold appricots. Or any person we met while having a walk. People are so nice there (and basically they are nice everywhere in NZ).
I also need to mention little fur babies, like cat Blossom, Jack Russel – Monty and a little civauva Bounty, that I took for a walk whenever I had some free time.
All this place was filled with love and kindness.
The streets of Bannockburn felt like home to me. And I still see them in my dreams.