Copyright Gary Weston 2013
Special thanks to Mr Malcolm Dellow for his invaluable help with the technical information about helicopters.
Wesdale, a little town tucked away in the middle of nowhere, hidden in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Take highway sixty-three and drive on past St Arnaud, heading west and before you hit Howard Junction, you come to a small, fairly nondescript town, similar to hundreds of others throughout the country. A static population of just less than four and a half thousand, swelling to five and a half in the peak of the tourist season. Tourism was the principle industry for the majority of the population.
At the northern end of the Southern Alps, with mountain climbing, tramping, skiing and the two glacial lakes of Rotoroa and the much smaller, Rotoiti, Wesdale competed with the more popular St Arnaud’s, for the tourist dollar. Fortunately, the skiing at Mt Robert and Rainbow Valley, along with the walking, fishing and various lakeside activities, provided enough income for the locals of both communities to get by.
In the winter, the town actually became a bustling, thriving invigorating place to be. The summers were quieter when the skiing season had finished, but there was still a sufficient trickle of tourists to keep most people ticking over. The fortunes of the people were interwoven with each other and with the strangers that flitted in and out of their lives.