As our travels rolled towards their conclusion in the early months of 2015, one omission nagged at the back of our minds. At an earlier stage in the book project, David Straight had shown me images of a walkwire from the Nelson Lakes area. These minimalist bridges rank amongst the most remarkable structures within our vernacular landscapes, and demonstrate the beauty that can stem from economy of design. If time and money were not an issue, we would have ideally visited an incredible example on the Dusky Track, wherein a lightweight assemblage of wires is supported by towering frames that emerge from the river.
Regrettably, we had not found an opportunity to experience one by the time of our final South Island journey (through the West Coast, Nelson and Marlborough), as time did not permit a long jaunt into the forest for the sake of one object. At the eleventh hour, David decided that he could make a trip to Queenstown, with one of the primary reasons to photograph a walkwire near Milford (in tandem with some other photographic work unrelated to ‘Vernacular’), and I committed to paying around $400 for his flights, ostensibly solely on account of the walkwire. It is a strange set of priorities, but one only gets one shot at preparing a book, so we threw what turned out to be some very well-spent resources at one final indulgence.
In addition to a comprehensive series of photos of a walkwire (probably the most detailed observation of this type of structure that anyone has seen fit to undertake), this trip yielded an opportunity for David to visit the Carrick Water Race on a particularly beautiful day, and take some remarkable images of its winding path through the landscape. We had already looked into races of the Manuherikia Valley (and their flood irrigation), but this flying visit gave David the chance to follow one of these impressive landscape forms back into the hills that feed it with much of its volume.