With this years’ Summerset National Fours and Mixed Pairs tournaments being headquartered at the Alexandra Bowling Club in Central Otago, players have an ideal opportunity to satiate their competitive bowling appetite, as well as take in the many spectacular sights the Central Otago region has to offer.
Exploring New Zealand’s goldmining heritage is one of the sights not to be missed … with former mining boom towns like Macraes, Naseby, Oturehua, St Bathans, and Opihir only a gold nugget’s throw from Alexandra.
And one of those forgotten towns of yesteryear - Naseby – a collection of 150+ year old buildings that hasn’t suffered the commercialisation of Arrowtown- has even more to offer keen lawn bowlers.
Firstly, it’s home to the Naseby Bowling Club.
No. It’s not being used for the Nationals because the green is understandably not up to ‘tournament standard’ - you try keeping a lawn green at 2,000 feet above sea level in reputedly New Zealand’s hottest and coldest place!
But it is available for a casual roll-up.
And secondly, Naseby is home to the Maniototo (Naseby) International Indoor Curling Rink - the only dedicated indoor curling rink in the southern hemisphere! It’s a place where ‘curlers’ can practice their sport all year round.
Curling’s not been called ‘Bowls on Ice’ for no reason.
“It’s very similar to lawn bowls,” says Ewan Kirk of Maniototo International Curling, and a lawn bowler himself as well.
“Curlers ‘curl’ a 20kg stone down the ‘curling sheet’ to get as close as possible to the centre of the ‘house’ … a dart-board like target imprinted under the ice. In other words, it’s not too different to a bowlers rolling bowl (okay .. so it’s only 1-1.5kg) down the green to get as close as possible to the jack.”
“We find that bowlers love curling.”
The indoor curling rink at Naseby is open daily.
“Like bowling greens, our ice sheets take a lot of looking after,” says Ewan. “We’re down here every day grooming the ice … it can take up to 3 hours. The standard of a curling rink surface is far more precise than your average ice skating or ice hockey rink.”
When you see curling in action (yes, you can simply spectate), it’s easy to see why badly-prepared ice can interfere with the track of a stone just as much as a badly-prepared green can interfere with the track of a lawn bowl.
“We get a lot of drop-ins each day,” says Ewan. “Including cyclists biking the Otago Rail Trail. who stop in nearby Ranfurly, and want a break from the bike saddle for a few hours.”
“We welcome visitors from the National Lawn Bowls tournament.”
Unfortunately, I wont be here at the curling rink myself … I’m playing in the Fours myself!”
“But if visitors drop by, or call ahead, more than likely they’ll be able to have a go themselves.”
“It’s great fun.”