Sarah and Leah Purchase have grown up in Southland and Central Otago and enjoyed the benefits of Southern New Zealand’s distinctive seasons.
In their early years they spent many a night working at Lake Roxburgh Lodge assisting in the kitchen and hosting guests in the dining room. Both Sarah and Leah have strong backgrounds in hospitality having studied hospitality and tourism business management in Queenstown and have worked in the tourism industry in a range of locations including Australia and Canada.
Your passionate hosts Sarah and Leah Purchase
Work on building the Lodge – now Lake Roxburgh Lodge and Restaurant began in 1955 and was completed a year later catering for the tradesmen working at the Dam. In those days the main Lodge housed five guest rooms - accommodating special visitors, the managers flat, TV lounge, dining room, kitchen and laundry. The second building was purpose-built as the single men’s quarters, it also had a TV lounge and laundry.
Heritage - The Story of Roxburgh Dam
No trip to the Lake Roxburgh village would be complete without taking a look at the mighty Roxburgh dam. Opened in 1957 it is still one of the largest producers of electricity in New Zealand with 320 megawatts of generation. The best time to visit is when the floodgates are open – the sight and sound are awe-inspiring.
The houses in Lake Roxburgh Village were built for those employed at the Dam when it was operating and owned by the NZ Electricity Department, later owned by Electrocorp New Zealand, and now Contact Energy.
In 1989 the village was handed over to the Tuapeka County Council, then on to Central Otago District Council. All the houses in the village have been sold at varying times, with the final sale in 1996 including the Village Hall. The Lodge was purchased from ECNZ in 1989, with the present owners, Phil and Kim Winterbottom acquiring it in 1996. Since then many travellers have enjoyed the comfort of quality accommodation and good food.
The mighty Clutha River used to run unaided downstream from Lake Wanaka, (its source), through Cromwell, Alexandra, Gorge Creek, Roxburgh Gorge and Millers Flat, before splitting into the Koau branch - wide and shallow, and the Matau - deep and narrow, just South of Balclutha. Then surging onwards a further 16kms into the South Pacific Ocean.
In the early 1940’s the Government decided to build a Hydro Dam on the present site. A temporary village was erected on the East of the River comprising a school, several churches, shopping centre, picture theatre, fire brigade, and police station with two officers, and 3800 people. Most were employed to work on this magnificent feat of engineering. Many of the men who worked on the Hydro project travelled from halfway around the world, toiling for lengthy hours on sweltering summer days and continuing through the night with the aid of floodlights.
An informative panel of “A town now gone” is erected by the old telephone exchange building on the Roxburgh East road and well worth a stop to read!
Work on the Dam initially began in 1949. In 1953 the first turbine generators were installed. The first two of these generators were commissioned in 1956 and the last two of the total eight in 1962. During 1957 and 1958 the Ministry of Works shifted the majority of the town to Otematata for the next project - Benmore. The excess buildings were sold off and the area was restored to farmland and returned to the original owners.