A Kiwi folk hero, James McKenzie lends his name (well, close enough anyway) to the Mackenzie Country, a 180km crescent of rolling dry grassland between Fairlie and Kurow (to the south on SH83). A Gaelic-speaking Scottish immigrant of uncertain background, McKenzie is believed to have spent only a couple of years in New Zealand but his legend lives on. He was arrested in 1855 for stealing over 1,000 sheep, most of them from the Rhodes brothers’ Levels Run station near Timaru, and grazing them in the basin of rich high-country pastureland, with the assistance of a single dog, Friday. McKenzie escaped from prison three times during the first year of his five-year sentence, and when holding him became too much trouble, he was given a free pardon, after which he quietly disappeared, some say to America, others to Australia.

A poem commemorates the man and his dog in the visitor shelter at Lake Pukaki near the turn-off to Aoraki/Mount Cook.

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