It’s something like 13 or 14 years since we last went to Sullivan’s Dam (near my home town of Dunedin). I can remember that my younger son was under ten years old, and he’s now 23. As dams go, it’s nothing to write home about, being more of a small lake towards the top of Mount Cargill, with a run-off going off somewhere that we couldn’t see. But it’s surrounded by bush, there’s a pleasant track around the perimeter of the dam, and now there’s also a choice of three walks up the hill. (I discover, from Wikipedia, that it's actually what's known as a defunct dam, as is the nearby Ross Creek Reservoir.)
My wife and I opted for the shortest walk, the ten minute one, although the climb upwards felt rather longer than that. It’s been laid out with wooden ‘steps’ – steps in the sense that some of them are a metre long at least, and others are quite short. Then there are wooden squares filled with largish stones, and in some cases just plain old forest floor.
Fortunately we continued on until we got to Calvert Dell (at least I think it was Calvert, but I’m a blogger, not a reporter) and that made the trip worth doing. You reached what seemed to be a bit of a peak with the sign naming the place, and thought you were there, but more steps led down. It turned out the Dell was below where the sign was, and delightful. A lovely thin waterfall down a sheer rock above three metres high, covered in moss and ferns. At the bottom a small pool leading off to yet another little mountain stream. There was something magic about it. When I say it reminded me of something in a movie, I don’t mean to undermine the beauty of the place. It’s just that movies often capture the beauty of something like this better than I can convey in words.
On the way up the hill we were adopted by a fantail, which flickered and flittered in the branches just above our heads, obviously quite comfortable with human company. It showed its tail off frequently, as if it had nothing better to do, or, being Sunday, it thought pursuing more worksome tasks could be left for another 24 hours.