Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pt. 4. Underground.

When we got off the schooner we got back on the bus for the return journey to Lake Manapouri. The scenery looked different in more light and later in the day.
At the West Arm of the lake is the Manapouri Power Station. A little of it is above ground - a switch yard and 4 huge transmission lines to the National grid. The rest of it is below ground!
The bus pulled up at the locked gate and the driver punched in the code to let us in. We then drove 2 kms down and round ( not that you could tell ) in the tunnel, dug into the granite, till we reached the power station set176 metres below the lake level. This power station was built between 1963 and 1971 and was a huge engineering project. People from around the world worked on it's construction.
( anyone nervous could have waited at the top )
Turning the bus around down there was quite something! Most of the electricity produced goes to run the aluminium smelter at Bluff. It was very warm in the huge room looking at the generators as the heat gets trapped under the rocks.
What an awesome thing to see, what a feat of engineering brilliance ( don't think earthquake )! There is no direct road access to this power station only water.( so worker either stay on site or travel as we did daily. So do supplies! )
The discharge ( used water from the generators) goes in a tunnel out to Doubtful Sound.
That was the 2 nd furthest ( strange word that ) under ground I have ever gone. The furthest was in the 1960s when I went down a coal mine on the West Coast - much more scary as it was in a cage basket in the dark straight down. I remember the sensation of the air rushing past. ( the guys who worked there did it daily ! )
We then boarded the launch and fairly barrelled back to Manapouri as the weather was closing in and turning nasty. That day out was expensive but worth every bit of it . DH agrees.
*An aside. I have been continuing to sew blue backed hexagons by the fire most nights - the number is growing. Photos of that progress soon.


Suzi-k said...

am really enjoying sharing your holiday...thanks!

meggie said...

I am enjoying learning all about my native country!
Thanks Ali!

Birdydownunder said...

what a fantastic adventure Ali. You are so brave to go underground. I just hate (read WILL NOT)go anywhere enclosed. And it seems I miss out on such a lot. Your photo's and description are excellent.

Suzi-k said...

i'm back, just visited shirley's blog and saw the same area on her link to donalds photos, it is BREATHTAKING! and that snow! I wonder if you can still travel around freely when it has frozen like that? I'd LOVE to be there in the snow!

Shirley Goodwin said...

Hoo! I've never been to Manapouri. I'm not over keen at being underground, though Waitomo is ok.

Birdydownunder said...

Ali... sorry to do it this way, but could you email me please...sheila