My job is to help developers locate and design wind farms. We have located an area in the Wairarapa region of New Zealand (that’s the bottom right corner of the north island) that looks to be really windy. We have determined locations for hundreds of turbines, and are now visiting them one by one to investigate further.
These photos are from some recent time on site.
It is sheep farming country, wide and open. Each farm or “station” manages thousands of acres and thousands of sheep. From a distance, the mobs of sheep (yes, that’s the correct term), appear to flow over the hillsides in a perfectly coordinated stream. Despite the sad story behind these wide open green pastures, they do have a unique beauty.
The farmers shuttled us around their properties, since it would have been quite easy for us to get lost in this steep, broken, lumpy country by ourselves. I had a chance to talk with them during short breaks when the others were finishing their investigation of each wind turbine site. Their stories were pretty interesting. Much of this land has been in the same family lines since the original settlement in the late 1800s.
One elderly farmer’s grandfather moved to this area to settle his block of land at the ripe age of seventeen! At that time all this area was uninhabited and covered with dense native bush. It was backbreaking work to clear it all for pasture, and to keep it clear. Settlers brought seed to plant gorse, a thorny shrub used in the British Isles for stock hedges. The same farmer told me the story of an early settler who trekked in from the coast up the creek valleys, and when he arrived discovered that his bag of gorse seed had punctured at some point and had dropped half of its precious contents along the way. He was very disappointed, but surely within a few years his feelings changed completely. You see, gorse grows very slowly in the British Isles, and can be managed easily, but like many other plants introduced to New Zealand, it thrives in our climate and soils, spreads like wildfire, and colonizes entire hillsides quickly. It is now the most notorious weed in New Zealand.
It was refreshing to be out in the open country for several days. The odd thing is, most days were quite calm; no wind…