Flagstaff report

The following report is from Ryan Hellyer.

Thanks to a tip-off from Dave Richards who mentioned earlier in the week that his dog walked across a small firepond on Flagstaff, just a few minutes drive from the Dunedin city center, I headed over that way to see if the ice was now thick enough for a human to stand/skate on.

After parking in the Pineapple track carpark (aka “The Bullring”), a quick 10 min walk up the snow-laden hill revealed an excellent view across the Tairei plains and a terrific little pond sheletered from the wind. The pond was totally covered in ice, but on closer inspection I discovered that the sunny side of the pond had only a few millimetres of ice. The shaded side had some much thicker ice (up to 15 mm) but was far too soft to attempt standing on it. Plus, the edges were extremely thin and without the aid of a plank I would have landed in the water. I’m not sure how deep the pond is, but it definitely drops rapidly from the edges. The edges on the side in the shadows is also irritatingly steep and with little foot holding, so testing the ice strength by putting a foot on it is dodgy at best! I ended up sliding down on my butt and kicking the ice with my foot to see if it would break, which it did.

The firepond on Flagstaff in Dunedin. Saddle Hill and the Tairei plains can be seen in the background. Photo courtesy of Ryan Hellyer. Taken July 13th 2011.

Ice thickness on Flagstaff. Photo courtesy of Ryan Hellyer. Taken July 13th 2011.

Just as I was leaving, I discovered a small inlet on the other side of the road, which appeared to feed the main pond. The edges of this pond were locked in, unlike it’s larger companion across the road. I managed to stand on it for about 4 seconds before putting a foot through. When I alerted Dave Patchett to this via text message, it appeared that he thought I at least got my skates onto the ice, so I trundled back, put my skates on and tried it again. This time I managed to stand for a cool 10 seconds before attempting to glide across the ice … I made it about 30 cm before landing in water up to my knees.

Very small inlet which feeds the firepond on Flagstaff. Photo courtesy of Ryan Hellyer. Taken July 13th 2011.

So I technically did skate on Flagstaff, but it was on a stupidly small chunk of ice across the road from the main pond and I fell through as soon as I tried to actually move. A few good frosts should fix that though. Dunedin wasn’t even particularly frosty this morning, so it shouldn’t take much before the ponds are ready for proper skating.

2 thoughts on “Flagstaff report

    1. Ryan Hellyer

      It’s certainly is promising. We’ve had a couple of chilly nights since that visit so I might go inspect it again tomorrow if I drag my butt out of bed early enough.


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