A step too far … The Cairnmuir Landslide

Part of the purpose of these notes is to reflect on various things that we encountered along the way, including notable buildings, small cars in large landscapes and penguins.

 One of the strangest, and most impressive, landscape features that we encountered on our journeys is the Cairnmuir Landslide; New Zealand’s unintended tribute to the Aztec civilisation. This incredible, ziggurat-like structure was unsuitable for inclusion in the book, due to the fact that it belongs more to the realm of epic civil infrastructure than the kinds of features we were exploring.

 However, despite its brutal beauty, it was also undesirable as a subject for the book on account of the story of its genesis - as perhaps New Zealand’s most expensive and remarkable folly. When the nearby Lake Dunstan was dammed, as part of the legacy of Robert Muldoon’s ‘Think Big’ scheme, serious geological issues necessitated reinforcement of the adjoining hills, lest they suffer catastrophic failure. Hundreds of millions of dollars were pumped into an engineered solution to mitigate this risk, and the result is the massive, tiered structure that sits quietly on the hill overlooking the main road to Clyde.