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Road Features

Stratford’s Corner

Stratford’s Corner is an infamous corner on the ski field road, possibly named by Mike Morrison the Mountain Manager at the time.

Kerry Stratford tells the story:

“Stratford’s Corner came about in July 1993 when the road was extremely icy and a few centimetres of new snow. One car had just done a 180 so we were at walking pace in our 4WD with chains on, down towards what is now called Stratford Corner. We had just taken evasive action from a Landcruiser ahead of us in a slide. This in turn made us slide and we ended up slowly skidding around, facing back up hill.  Now we were teetering on the brink of the hairpin’s upper edge. It gave way and very slowly we toppled over the edge, rolling completely in the huge amount of snow on the bank, to land back on our wheels and facing the right way.  Pretty much every panel on the car was dented and the windscreen broken but the car was quite drivable.  Even the skis on the roof rack were undamaged.  I doubt a stunt driver could have done it better!  Then cars were sliding all over the place. A bit higher up a 4WD van had also gone over the edge, down into the trees. Cars were all backed up and eventually the road was closed while the road crew chopped up the road surface using the groomer.  I understand that the last of the public vehicles didn’t get down the road that day until 10:30pm. The whole incident made the Blenheim radio news bulletins the next day.”

Paddys Rock

Derek Cordes tells the story of Paddy’s Rock:

"On a cold bleak day during a snow storm at Paddy’s Rock in the lower Six Mile Creek, Colin Wishart, New Zealand Forest Service, Environmental Forestry Ranger from Blenheim was inspecting progress of the road construction.  Two intrepid personnel from the Rainbow ski field were standing on Paddy’s Rock.  Even during a snow storm, they were drilling and blasting this huge rock from the top down.  Paddy Dillon was one of the men doing the drilling and had a large hip flask which he used to ‘keep warm’.  After several days standing on the rock, drilling, blasting and swigging whiskey all this work was found to be completely unnecessary.  The road was constructed under this huge rock and the rock was named after Paddy Dillon and was marked by a for sale sign for many years."

Tobbys Track

Tobby’s Track was used when the original road was much shorter and did not reach the ski basin.  It was named after Tobby Hardy Boyes who had a reputation for carrying large loads of gear up to the landing at the top. The track goes up from the right side of the road, just below Stratford’s Corner, and emerges from the bush on the flat area near where the explosives magazine is now.  In the beginning this flat area was used as a helicopter pad.  

An early aerial photo of virgin untouched country. Looking into the head of Six Mile Creek, Upper Wairau River Rainbow Forest Park.  The skyline ridge is the top of the St Arnaud Range, which overlooks the head of Lake Rotoiti.  Photo taken before any ski field development in the early winter of 1975.

Helen Rance tells the story of Tobby's Track:

"Barry and I found the remnants of this track in 2009 – it is steep and the top flat is very swampy.  After emerging from the bush there is still a long way to walk to the base building.  Markers carry on from the start of the track down the river.  We understand the track is now used for trapping lines."