The Rangitata River:
The river is fed by three major tributaries (the Havelock, Clyde and Lawrence rivers), draining the ranges on the east side of the main divide of the southern alps. The Rangitata river flows for 121 kilometres wending its way south-eastwards through the Rangitata gorge in the foothills of the alps, across the Canterbury plains, forming the boundary between Strathallan and Ashburton Counties, Central Canterbury to enter the South Pacific Ocean at the South Canterbury bite.
At the mouth of the Rangitata Gorge a diversion channel carries away water for irrigation and power purposes. After skirting foothills the water is discharged by pipelines to a power station at the Highbank in the bed of the Rakaia river near Methven. Normally the diversion water is used for irrigation purposes in summer and for power generation in winter. There is also good fishing for salmon and trout in the river. In the upper reaches of the Rangitata valley are the high country sheep and cattle stations Erewhon and Mesopotania. The Rangitata was a formidable obstacle to travellers across the Canterbury Plains in the early days of settlement and many lives were lost in attempts to cross it.
In the summer of 1952 Sydney Lough Thompson arrived back in New Zealand where he remained until leaving for France in 1963. During these years he travelled in the South Island making numerous excursions to paint lake scenery in Canterbury and working in 1955, 1956, 1958 and 1963 in central Otago. Other important painting sites were found around Kaikoura, Blenheim and Nelson, as well as closer to home in the Cass region and along the Waikari River.
In 1954 the New Zealand Government selected Seaweed Kaikouras to present to Sir Winston Churchill for his 80th birthday and in 1956 they chose Lake Sarah for the Duke of Edinburgh to mark his visit to New Zealand. In 1956 Mr Henry Kelliher donated Lake Wanaka Summer Morning to the Dunedin Public Art Gallery and in 1958 Mrs TT Gough presented Autumn, Greta Cutting to the Robert McDougall at Gallery.