Farmland on Northburn, Leaning Rock and Matakanui Stations was opened to drivers and passengers on Sunday for ‘‘Behind the Locked Gates’’ — the Alexandra Lions Club 4WD safari.
Drivers turned off State Highway 8 midway through the Cromwell Gorge, before climbing farm tracks to the rock that gives Leaning Rock Station its name, to stop for photographs and lunch.
Organiser Barry McCall said 42 vehicles took part in the annual event, exploring the area around Leaning Rock, elevation 1647m, then descending the other side of the range to exit at Matakanui.
The te reo name for Leaning Rock was Haehaeata, meaning ‘‘first to greet the dawn’’, Fred McKnight told participants over a radio commentary he provided throughout the day.
Mr McKnight’s son Bevan and his wife Tiffany lease Northburn and Leaning Rock Stations from owner Tom Pinckney.
They opened the land to those taking part in the fund›raising event, as did Matakanui Station owners Andrew and Tracy Paterson.
‘‘We rely on the co›operation of the landowners,’’ Mr McCall said.
About $4300 was raised, which would go to the Alexandra Volunteer Fire Brigade to upgrade communication equipment.
Chief Fire Officer Russell Anderson, who helped with traffic control, said the brigade was thankful to be the recipient of the fundraiser for a second consecutive year.
Last year’s donation purchased a wheeled rescue stretcher suitable for use on rough ground such as the Lake Dunstan Trail, the users of which would also benefit from this donation.
‘‘We are going to put it towards some communication radios because we have a number of blind spots along the river,’’ CFO Anderson said.
‘‘We will get compatible radios so we can communicate with the coastguard also.’’
Lions Club member Murray Anderson was one of the drivers, with his wife Marcelle alongside, and said it was a privilege to go through the farmland.
‘‘I’ve lived here all my life and never been up there,’’ he said.
Mr McCall said the event had been running for about 10 years and had more participants this year than ever before.
‘‘It exceeded my expectations because of the recent weather also. A lot of that would have been undrivable if it was raining.’’