A minister who died last month built half the stunningly-scenic road between Glenorchy and Queenstown when he was a teenager.
Aged just 16, Glenorchy-born Ivan Smith was employed by top-of-the-lake farmer and councillor Tommy Thomson to doze the lakeside road from Glenorchy to Bennetts Bluff.
In 2012, Invercargill couple Liz and Peter Cruickshank drove Smith and his wife to Glenorchy to cruise on the Earnslaw during centenary celebrations for the steamer.
Liz says he reminisced to them about dozing the road in the late ’50s.
He recalled the Earnslaw would drop off drums of diesel along the shoreline and he’d drive his dozer down often near-vertical faces to pick up the drums and drop off empties.
Liz says he initially stayed in a shed on Thomson’s property, then as the job progressed he’d sleep in a hammock swung between beech trees.
“He pointed them out to us as we drove along.”
He often lived on only condensed milk and dried apricots, Liz says.
“He was delighted to see that the current road still follows the route and levels that he had done by eye all those years ago.”
Queenstown contractor, the late Darrell McGregor, was contracted by Thomson to complete the job from the big bluff to Queenstown.
According to Liz, Smith said he was just paid wages whereas McGregor was on a good contract rate.
Smith later worked as an engineer on Ohai/Nightcaps coal mines, before he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.
He’d latterly lived at Nightcaps, but died in Invercargill on May 25, aged 79.
His wife, renowned Southland Times journalist Pat Veltkamp Smith, died in March.