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Mountain Days

 - From the diary, works and life of Dave Osmers

A record of high country adventure & New Zealand historic photography

The deer winded us and took off, a mob of 18, and even with the snow up to three feet deep they travelled fast and didn’t look like stopping. So on we went knowing we would reach them before the head...

Dave Osmers was a southern-born, Christchurch raised mountaineer, who shepherded across the great landscapes of the South Island of New Zealand (Te Waka a Māui).

Over his many years among the mountains, Dave carried a camera by his side, and his passion for photography took the shape of one of New Zealand's most comprehensive High Country historic recollections.

Having spent the last two hours of daylight working in water, I found my feet had lost all feeling, so instead of riding I walked the mile back to the hut...

Inside the hut, the fire going, I had difficulty getting my boots off as they were frozen solid as well as my socks. The fire thawed everything out except my feet which had a burning, tingling feeling and with no difference in the morning I set out to ride into the homestead – 4 miles away...

One of the musterers espied a black wooled sheep and said “let’s put it in with the sale sheep for a joke”. We could imagine the owners face when he saw the black sheep of the family in the middle of his select line of purebred merinos, so in went the black sheep with much mirth amongst all.

Pen and paper

1950-1960's

Diary pages

"So I changed clothing, saddled a fresh horse...

tied on the swag and set off on a journey of another two hours ride.

I arrived close on nine o’clock that night, and as it was still raining hard, my last lot of dry clothes were clinging wet..."

"Late that afternoon ...

we had the sheep down the creek, but unable to travel over the highbluff with so many frozen parts.

Only one way out – keep crossing the creek or follow the creek between the steep sides.

At first it worked well, but when a sheep soaking wet touched the rockface, it froze to it instantly..."

"Noel’s smoking his pipe it has no flavour
What is the cause of this behaviour?

One eye on the ceiling and one on the wall,
he lies there waiting for blowflies to fall.

Gently blows smoke from out of his briar
Doug pokes out his head and says, “Cripes he’s on fire".”

Dave went on to help found a community in Makarora West, raised a beautiful family and was writing a book when he passed away.

My grandmother once told me he was inspired by The Family of Man, a global declaration of solidarity that followed World War II.

I hope these chapters share with you the glimpse he shared with myself and many along the way - of this precious way of living. May it impress our need to preserve this beautiful land Aotearoa, which has undergone so many changes so quickly.

Feel free to explore the journey.

Fine art photography store

If you would like to support our work, please explore our exhibition of photography prints. Just don't be late to embark on the journey ahead...

My immense gratitude to all those who have encouraged this journey and shared stories of their own. These gathered, precious memories hold a light out for the fading age of the High Country of old.

-Dean (Dave's grandson)

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Companion

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Solitude

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Solitude (Dave Osmers)-Whiteburn Hut-Walter Peak-Thumb