Darrell’s long winding road

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Friends and family have remembered a champion Queenstowner who built many of the region’s main roads. 

Prominent road builder, sportsman, dedicated club man and colourful character Darrell McGregor died last week at 82. His funeral was on Monday at St Margaret’s Community Church in Frankton. 

Darrell shifted to Queenstown in 1947 and was a contractor for 56 years – only quitting when the local council shut down his Shotover Delta gravel extraction plant in 2008. 

In 1956 he won the first of 22 contracts to build the Queens­town-Glenorchy Road. 

One bluff he blasted his way through is named Darrell’s Bluff in his honour. A lot of the stone shifted by Darrell adorns rock walls all over the Wakatipu. 

Darrell also won contracts to form part of the Kingston highway to Queenstown. 

The Reverend Ivan Smith, speaking at his packed funeral this week, recalled a Public Works official visiting him after he got the Kingston Rd contract. 

“He stared in disbelief at Darrell’s gear – a one-tone Bedford tipper and a small bulldozer. 

“That was Darrell – the risk-taker, a man of confidence, relishing the challenge.” 

Other jobs included bulldozing the road up Skyline in 1961 and doing the earthworks for the airport runway in 1969. 

Darrell’s biggest contracts were on the Monowai power station and Mackenzie Country dam projects. 

Darrell was a life member of the Queenstown Tennis Club and one-time singles and mixed doubles champ. 

“He had a serve that was not fast but a winner every time – unplayable,” Smith said. 

“Some walked off the court in tears, others claimed the serve was illegal.” 

Club spokesman John Foster says he was “a real tennis enthusiast and really integral to where the club is today.” 

Darrell was an indoor bowling club captain for a few years. 

In recent years he also played outdoor bowls. 

“He frustrated the hell out of a lot of players – and he enjoyed it,” the bowling club’s Ross Owens said at the funeral. 

Darrell joined the local Lake Lodge of Ophir masonic lodge in 1959 and was treasurer for a time. 

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Shirley, six children, 19 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.