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New Zealand Gold part 3
Travels in the Otago Goldfields
These pages brings together our information on New Zealand Gold, Goldmining Techniques and Goldfields gathered whilst touring in the Otago during 2002 and 2003.
Otago was one of the main centres of goldmining in New Zealand and now boasts a well documented "Otago Goldfields Park" and "Goldfield Heritage Trail" covering a number of specific sites spread over a wide area. We have visited a good number of the 20 or so sites in Otago. Click on the map to get a larger image - we have visited the sites numbered 1 to 11in 2002 and revisited some and filled in some gaps in 2003. The number below will correspond to the map.
Arrowtown and the Chinese settlement was one of the first goldmining heritage areas we visited in Otago and, along with Kawarau Gorge, started our interest in the Goldmining days. We have been several times but I have tried to combine the visits as there was considerable overlap in the text.
Rain forced us to abandoned thoughts of visiting goldfields involving long walks and instead went to Arrowtown with it's restored Chinese settlement on the banks of the river Arrow where Gold was found in 1862.The small group who first discovered the gold brought out over 200 pounds in the first 4 weeks before others tracked the and it down and started another gold rush.
Arrowtown started life as an obscure church settlement but with discovery of Gold in 1861 growth was dramatic and within three years the population of the area grew to 30,000 making it the foremost province in New Zealand. The fall was just as rapid in 1865 and the population plummeted as miners left in their thousands for the newly found Westland Goldfields.
This greatly concerned the Otago business community and shopkeepers and led to the provincial council inviting and paying for Chinese miners from Victoria, Australia to come to Otago. The numbers eventually grew to 5000 and one of the major settlements was close to Arrowtown on the banks of the Arrow. This settlement has been extensively restored and forms part of the Otago Goldfields Park which has many interesting sites spread throughout Otago. This visit we dodged from hut to hut as the storms came through giving us a good feeling of how they must have lived.
There are several DOC Goldfield walks in the area which we tried in 2000 but, at the time, the trails were marked (fairly correctly) as washed out - we tried two routes and after paddling our way through streams and climbing over fallen trees we were forced to give up on the first but at least ended up climbing to 800 foot or so giving nice views back over the area on the second before returning. We also took Tobin's track to a viewpoint over Arrowtown - a hard slog for 1.5 miles at a relentless 1 in 5 with not a cloud in site or a tree for shade on the track - worth it for the view but we were very weary on our return from that second walk.
A good place to start ones explorations of Gold in Otago is the Kawarau Gorge where there is commercially restored site which does a guided tour which usually (water permitting) demonstrates a hydraulic monitor in operation and also a Stamper battery. Stampers are used to break down and release gold from quartz, rare in the Otago but common elsewhere. Both demonstrations are very well worth seeing - it is the only place we know where a Monitor still in use and one of only three with a Stamper and the only one which is still driven by water power from a Pelton Wheel (a form of very efficient high pressure water wheel). We watched the demonstrations and the explanations by the guide but broke away from the gold panning as we had tried that before and walked the well marked tracks past many artifacts and the big 'amphitheatres' left from the hydraulic sluicing. The site also has a replica of a Chinese miners village build as a film set. We have been there a couple of times as it is close to Queenstown and took time to go off the trails and look at the dams, water races and piping supply the Hydraulic Monitor and Stamper.
We then went to the Bannockburn Sluicings (near Cromwell) and for the first time began to appreciate the scale of operations and the magnitude of materials removed. The full walk round the area takes about three hours so we only went part way but even so the scale of the faces were awe inspiring whole cliffs perhaps a hundred feet high and hundreds of yards across cut out of the hillsides making huge amphitheatres. We decided it was definitely a place to return to as we did not get to see any of the remains of the water races and dams.
As we had promised ourselves we returned a week latter and completed the 2.5 hour walk round the Bannockburn site with its huge legacy of tailings.We had not fully grasped the enormous area which had been changed - we had seen the 80' high faces but had not appreciated that tens, possibly hundreds of acres had been stripped to similar depths. One was seeing little "islands" standing to the original surface level. We saw the water races and dams bringing in the vast supplies needed to wash away millions of cubic feet of gravel and the complex channels cut to get the tailings away to the rivers.
Another first time visit in 2002 was to the Bendigo Gold field on a loop road off the road between Cromwell and Tarras. Here we saw some of the remains of deep mines and the Mattilda Stamper battery, unusual in Otago as well as the remains of two long deserted villages Logantown and Whelshtown. The visit was enhanced by meeting a group of vintage Riley enthusiasts who had brought some beautifully restored old cars going back to 1948. We left before them and found a ford on the loop track challenging after the rains but slipped and spun our way over the slipper stones and hope they faired OK with their magnificent cars.
Old Cromwell, One should not neglect Cromwell itself. Old Cromwell, an area of old buildings, now rebuilt mud brick by mud brick and corrugated iron sheet by sheet is already quite interesting and occupied us for an hour or two.
Cromwell Museum has a lot of Cromwell history from its start and initial signification as a centre for the gold fields on to fruit farming. A major part covered the changes on the area when the hydroelectric scheme started. There are fascinating before, during and after pictures complementing those at Old Cromwell. The scheme, one of the last the New Zealand "Think Big" series conceived in the 1970s, built a dam and power station at Clyde on the Clutha for which Cromwell was the major administrative and engineering base. The land which was under the parts of Cromwell due to be submerged had not been mined and the opportunity was taken as soon as the buildings had been removed. It is alleged that over 4000 oz of gold were recovered from under that area - enough to go a long way to it's preservation and rebuilding on the new site.
Cromwell had proved to be a town offering more than we expected and an ideal centre for a further trips out into the gold areas so we decided to stay a bit longer and see a few more of the local gold towns and gold fields. We went first to a small village, Ophir which has twenty or so houses left in their original state. Gold was discovered in 1863 and almost overnight the population reached 1000. In its heyday Ophir was the commercial and social centre of the district with a number of stores, a school, police station, courthouse, post office, hospital, two hotels and two churches.
Many of these buildings remain and are being steadily restored and the few extra buildings are very much in character. Features such as the wide street with massive kerb stones and stone lined gutters remain. Apart from the odd car you could have been transported back 130 years. We approached over the last remaining suspension bridge in Otago down a gravel road, the best way if you follow in our footsteps (wheel tracks ?).
Most of the buildings are in private hands however the Post Office is owned by the Historic Places Trust, to which we belong, and we spent some time speaking to the new curator and postmistress, and her predecessor who had been in post for 27 years and had gathered a vast and fascination number of local photographs and information of all sorts. She found detains of some of the mining survey reports for the area dating back to 1890 and other early reports on dredging from the turn of the century. In return we have promised to send details of LeClenche cells, the early batteries used for telephones, from some of my grandfathers technical books. We soaked in the atmosphere down the main street and took lots of pictures before we continued.
We just happened to pass by another Historic Places site we had read about - The Hayes Engineering Works. Whilst strictly nothing to do with Gold this is too good to miss if you are looking at the Goldfields in the area. Fortuitously an engineer who had done work on the site was there and after showing us round the outside called the curator (it normally opens only at weekends) and got it unlocked and gave us a full guided tour along with some of his relations he had brought from Dunedin. It is just as it was when it closed in 1952 and is still operational, if drive from a tractor power take off - the original power from a dam driven Pelton wheel does not work as the water supply is no more.
Hayes was an inventor as well as Engineer and initially designed and built his own windmill to power the plant. It was on a tower 12 metres tall with sails of 7 metres diameter, the largest in the country at the time, but was latter replaced by the Pelton Wheel to give more reliable power for the works. A major part of his business was production of windmills of various novel and patented designs.
His most famous inventions were to do with the seemingly mundane but actually very important job of tensioning the wire for fences. His designs started in 1905 and were soon in use all over New Zealand. They were developed further and the final version produced in 1924 is still in use now and finally won an engineering innovation award in 1982 - that must be a record! You will still find the Hayes brand name on most of the tightening devices at the end of barbed wire fences - we have been checking! The works is well worth a detour for a look when open and we would love to be there on one of the days when it is powered up with dozens of belts of novel forms driving the tools.
We carried on and again by chance passed a sign to the Golden Progress Quartz mine. A short walk took us to the mine workings with the Poppet Head, a 14 metre high structure supporting wheels over which ran ropes to cages used to hoist the gold bearing ore to the surface. The remains of the Stamper Battery mountings remain and there are several boilers left which powered the steam engines for the hoists and Stampers.
We then went on to St Bathans, one of our original targets. The town is interesting and, like Ophir, time has stood still, although it is perhaps a bit more commercialised. What interested us was the mining remains. St Bathans was the site of perhaps the greatest of the Hydraulic Elevator and Sluicing operations. Starting in 1864 Kildare hill, originally 120 metres high was reduced by Hydraulic Sluicing to nothing and then in 1880 Hydraulic elevators were used and eventually it was reduced to a pit 68 metres deep.This was the deepest hydraulic mining lift in the world. The enormous hole was flooded in 1935 when mining was abandoned. They only stopped because of fears that the main street of St Bathans was about to collapse into the workings - one can see the cracks in the builds today.
It is difficult to convey the size of the Lake and surrounding workings full of tailings and faces. We guess that it could be close to a kilometre long and 200-300 metres wide which ties in with statements in one of the books that over 100,000 oz of gold had been removed from a 200 acre area by 1893. An awe inspiring sight and a must to visit. The town hall is open and has lots of early pictures showing it in operation which needs to be looked at. There is also a short walk which we have left for next time.
We had also decided that we would stop at Alexandra and see if we could find the site where there had been a lot of dredging for gold and an impressive set of tailings had been left behind. It took some finding on a back road from Clyde, itself a nice unspoiled town. We found a sign to a viewpoint which seemed a good start as it was only 1 km - after a while we found another sign saying 2 kms pointing up a steep gravel track, the only thing in its favour being it was an AA sign. The climb was interesting to say the least with the wheels scrabbling for grip much of the way - let passengers out first for a break, they will need it by the top! The view was however worth it, one of the best we have ever had out over Clyde showing the dam and the town laid out like patchwork quilt with all the orchards the area is famous for surrounded by trees. The area is famous for apricots and other stone fruit. In the far distance was a what looked like a giants ploughed field which we assumed was the dredgings.
We followed on down the Earnscleugh Road which seemed reasonable as it was the Earnscleugh dredgings we were looking for and eventually ended up in Alexandra, however there was a sign pointing back the other way to the dredgings! We looked for the Information Office and Museum which had moved to a new site and we then found it closed early on a Saturday. After a search through Pauline's stacking box of reference material we found an excellent Historic Sites viewing and walking guide for Alexandra which had details and a sort of map - the scales varied by 10:1 across it. For anyone looking for the Dredgings Reserve cross the bridge out of Alexandra, after a hundred yards turn right into Earnscleugh Road (back road to Clyde) and go 3 kms at which you will find Marshall Road on the right and a sign to the 150th Centenary walkway. At the end the carpark is under the tailings and you can walk up to a viewpoint or do longer walks.
Dredging was probably at its most spectacular on the Clutha near Alexandra. The ground was worked over several times and as the dredges became more powerful they would cut there way into the solid ground of the river terraces working their way over huge areas leaving behind what can only describe as furrows. The Earnsleugh Flat Dredge Tailings and The Golden Beach Tailings lie either side of the Fraser River entry to the Clutha and a large area has been turned into the Historic Reserve we had eventually found. The Earnscleugh dredgings were formed by the activities of 5 dredges between 1896 - 1924 and 1951 - 1962. Hundreds of acres have been dredges with the resulting tailings laid out like a giants ploughed field with furrows 40-50 feet deep and hundreds of feet across where they had been ejected from the back of the dredge. Paddock dredging seemed to involve cutting deeply into the dry land of the terraces and the tailings were scattered from centrifugal drums and elevators. It was an awe inspiring sight and well worth all the time spent looking for it - it is difficult to see why it took so long to find as the area is huge.
We also took time to stop at Gabriel's Gully, the birthplace of the Otago gold rushes - within 7 months of the first discovery 10,000 miners had flocked to Gabriel's Gully and other parts of the Goldfield. We had been there a few years ago but it was nice to see it again and place it in our new perspective.You can see a vast smooth slope where the sluicing took place and a pool at the bottom where there were hydraulic elevators raising the gravel to overhead sluices and riffle boxes. The valley floor has been steadily raised by the tailings and is now over 50 metres above the original level. Other interesting statistics for the area are that there were 450 kms of water races created in the first 4 years for ground sluicing, the longest of which was 40 km going right to the Waipori River.
After a number of interludes including Ranfurley, we went on to Naseby which, in complete contrast to Ranfurley, is a delightful small town with almost the whole of the centre being original 1864 and a bit buildings from the gold rush days. They also have a nice little settlers museum. The town was very quiet while we were there - it has a permanent population of 85 which grows to around 4000 over Christmas when the cribs, camp ground and hotels fill up. It then fills again as winter comes as it is a centre for curling. It has excellent walks in the Naseby Forest area which is also full of well preserved and documented gold artifacts and workings. The only thing that spoils it is that many of the tracks have been cut up or turned into gravel slides by mountain bikes, despite signs on the entry restricting the areas and banning them from walking trails. I guess the problem is they can be hired in the village.
We stayed over night at the Larchview Motor Camp, we had intended to camp but we found they had a couple of 1896 ex miners cottages brought from Oturehua in original condition and at $42 a night it was impossible to resist, especially as they had cooking, even if no other facilities other than a big log fire and a range.
Naseby - short mine workings walk. Once we were settled we had a walk up to some of the old mine workings past a water race in full flow. There used to be a big hydraulic elevator and the explanatory boards were by far the best we have seen - I fail to understand why the clearest expositions are from the forestry people!
Naseby longer walks along the water races. We were so delighted with the area we stayed another day to do some of the longer walks along an old water race for the gold workings and still in use today for water for irrigation. It must have been one of the longest races produced at 112 km long taking water from the Mt Ida range. We then passed Hoffman's dam and on to Coalpit dam where we were back in 'civilisation' at a picnic area with lots of tables. A lovely spot and completely deserted apart from Dragon Flies pair flying with their reflections over the lake. During the whole walk taking 4 hours we only saw one other pair of people walking their dogs.
Naseby Settlers Museum. We then had quick look in the Settlers Museum and settled ourselves back for a quiet evening and a chance to complete this newsletter - I am completing it listening to a Tui in full song almost drowning conversation.
Dansey's Pass and Kyburn Diggings (11). In the morning we consulted the campsite owners and on their recommendation decided to take the more interesting narrow, sometimes single track gravel road over Dansey's Pass. It took us past sluiced cliffs and heaped tailings of the Kyburn Gold Diggings but we did not stop - we have seen enough gold workings. We passed the Dansey Pass Hotel built in 1863 which used to be the centre of activities but it has been extensively modified. The original was built by a stonemason called Happy Bill who took his payment in beer, a pint for every schist boulder shaped and laid on the thick walls. The nearby picnic area has a grove of different exotic trees, one to represent the homeland of every nations miner in the workings.
We left Christchurch at 1500 and decided there was still time to go over Dansey's Pass to Naseby in the Otago Gold Fields - we know an excellent campsite there which has a number of historic cabins and a mine managers residence. We stayed in one of the 1896 cabins last year so we booked the managers residence this year. We found it was set up for up to 9 people and could sleep 11 if you used the convertible settee and had all the usual facilities - all for $52 with our own bedding. We ended up staying for 3 nights although we had to move downmarket to a workers cabin for the last night as the swish one was booked for the Saturday night. It is an excellent site and highly recommended. Last year we borrowed a telephone line from his office and this year we found a socket had been installed outside for regulars who stay for a few days. He does not even feel he needs to charge but we always try to put something into a charity box under such circumstances otherwise such help and privileges will disappear.
We covered the walks last year so will say little. We only managed to do the local goldfields walk before the forest was closed because the ground was very dry and the 100 kph winds forecast posed a considerable fire risk. We spent time in the museums.
The last day at Naseby did a big loop by van starting at Ranfurly, down the Pigroot, one of the early routes for minors into the interior and back via Macraes Flat and Hyde. Ranfurly has set up to sell itself as an Art Deco town, with little justification in our view compared to such places as Napier - in fact many New Zealand towns have a greater proportion of true art deco buildings. It however does have a good information office with an excellent display of contemporary photographs of the Manitoto.
Our objective was to look at Macraes Flat which has one of the few current large scale mining actives in New Zealand - it is extracting close to 100,000 oz of Gold per year from 3 million tons of ore. On the way we tried to find the historic plaques at Dead Horse Pinch , near the Pigroot summit, placed to commemorate the hardships faced by the miners traveling to the goldfields on such routes. We believe we found the correct car park and track but it led nowhere.
We however had no difficulty in finding the new mining areas at Macraes Flat. We approached Macraes Flat from the East and met an area devastated by open cast mining activities, huge pits and terraces with huge diggers and trucks looking like toys extracting ore and in the distance great banks of spoil being shaped into a new landscape. We turned off down the side road leading to the Golden Point mine and found even more workings and eventually a viewpoint of the processing plant. It is difficult to convey the scale of operations but we came past workings for perhaps two kilometres before we turned and the track was 5 kilometres long and the workings were almost over the top of the old mine. Aerial pictures of a few years ago show the workings to be near circular so we are looking at tens of square kilometres being open cast mined to depths of tens if not hundreds of metres - Round hill has already been converted to a deep lake. The yields are low and the mine has a throughput of 3 million tons of rock per year to produce only 100,000 oz of gold, far lower yields than were considered economic in quartz mining in the past.
The area was first the site of a rush in 1863 and nearby there were quartz mine workings. A highlight of the area is the Golden Point Mine in Deepdell creek. This area was opened up for Gold and latter Scheelite (Tungsten ore) mining in 1889 and worked till the 1930s. The small battery remains, supposedly in working order, in the original buildings. The Golden Progress Mine is dwarfed by the new workings on the hillside above. It would all fit into a couple of the dumper trucks. It is remarkably well preserved and the Stamper battery and separators are all, by repute, usable. There are remains of more modern crushing mills outside, developments of the Berdan with rollers by the look of it. There were various boards round the site but we have , as yet, found no DOC information sheets for the area - we have some pictures of the boards which will help fill in the details when this goes onto the web.
The area had many other nearby operations, which are also covered by the boards, and many of the original shacks and the managers house are still standing. The old adit can be reached by a short track and various other artifacts for supplying the battery remain. A very interesting area to visit and an interesting comparison between modern brute force and the skills of the past. We can see why areas are not enthusiastic to have mining restarted.
We stopped to look at the Stanley's Hotel and went in to see if there were any trips round the new mine or operation of the old and stayed for lunch. Stanley's hotel was rebuilt in 1889 but dates back in various forms to the earliest days. It still has the motto outside - "Whilst I live I'll Crow referring to an earlier rivalry between Stanley and Griffin, the publican of the competing United Kingdom Hotel.
After a pleasant evening back at Naseby we continued our journey across the Otago to Cromwell. We took a back-road through the Ida valley, our first stop being at Oturehua, an old mining town which had been the source of the cabin we were staying in 1896. The historic store dates from 1882 and still largely in its original state with Kauri counters, box shelving and cabinets still occupy one side in which are displayed many items of yesteryear - well worth looking into as well as being one of the only sources of ice-creams in the area.
We did not stop to look at the nearby Golden Progress mine as we spent time there last year but we did stop for a quick look at the Hayes Engineering works (covered last year). We spent far longer (2.5 hours) than we intended mostly speaking to the curator, whose Christian name I failed to get but I believe is from Glenida Station - she gave us a lot of additional insights into many other 'heritage' and conservation matters including the habits of Japanese and other oriental visitors. She also gave us access and permission to copy a lot of old pictures which she has obtained from the neighbourhood. She has been is steadily obtaining information on the locations from other locals. I have, in exchange, got a picture of a strange piece of equipment produced by Hayes which they are seeking the purpose of. I will put it up on the web site in due course. Hayes invented many other things for the agricultural and gold industries other than the wire strainer for which he became famous.
We then took a largely gravel back road from Poolburn past Moa Creek at her recommendation - lovely scenery taking us past old goldmining areas and the areas where the Moa dredge originated. The area round Poolburn lake was used for filming part of the Lord of the Rings - it needs a 4x4 to reach the lake area used for filming of Rohan. The scenery was wonderful on the drive when one cold take ones eyes off the twisting gravel road long enough to see it or find the occasional pull off.
We stopped in Alexandra to find a Bank and more importantly go to the museum. Alexandra is another old gold mining town on the banks of the mighty Clutha river. In the later days of gold fever some of the greatest dredging operations took place near Alexandra. Their are two excellent 'Historic Sites Viewing and Walking Tour' leaflets available freely in the town which are historical tours of old goldmining sites and places of interest from the golden days of Lower Dunstan. They are baked by the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust, Alexandra Museum and DOC. You need the car to reach some of the places of interest such as the viewpoints and dredgings and not all of the places of interest concern gold but they are extremely useful for the maps and background information so are must to collect. We went to quite a number of the places covered last year - the estimate it needs one day to do each of the two tours with all the walk options. Alexandra also claims to have the highest average temperatures in New Zealand and the lowest rainfall in its advertising brochure.
Last year the Museum was closed during our visit, its earlier buildings had been flooded twice recently, so we were very pleased to find it open in the new buildings in Pioneer Park on the main street (Centennial Avenue). The displays are currently quite restricted as the move has only recently taken place and 95% of the material has been in storage, even so it already has a number of interesting exhibits many related to gold. Progress should be rapid as it is regarded as the most significant cultural, heritage and tourism investment ever made
It also has the most comprehensive display boards covering gold dredging we have found with pictures of many of the dredges linked to location maps showing the claims. The maps seem similar to those in Kawarau Gold by Sinclair taken from the Otago Daily Times. What we found most interesting was that they also have a large folder in the research section full of goldmining pictures. This contained a number of the pictures we have already got copies of from various private sources and has enabled us to identify where some of them were taken - for example one of our pictures of sluicing is the Never Fail claim at Shepherds Flat and one of the Hydraulic elevators at St Bathans was taken in 1906, latter than we realised. More important, it also provides a potential source of better copies with provenance. The number of early pictures is limited and we have found the same pictures in many places. Some probably are in National Archive Collections such as the Alexander Turnball Library but have been used by many different people over the years and we suspect ended up separately catalogued and attributed in books and displays.
As ever we spent a long time talking to the curator on duty, Esme Kilgour, who was also a member of the governing board of the museum. Everyone seems delighted to find people interested, especially from outside of the country. It is also becoming clear that we are observing some links and there is potential for building some bridges as we have perhaps traveled more widely than many New Zealanders. Some of our rather more extreme observations and views seem to strike chords - in this case it turned out that the curators husband Bob has been involved with gold mining and our talk may have added a few bits into a jigsaw concerning the battles over future mining activities.
As a slight aside we have realised that there are several areas where there is scope for publication of some of our findings. There are arguably too many books covering gold mining but even so some areas have been neglected and there is scope for some relevant research into the changing perceptions of gold mining over the years which is giving a new focus to the information we have been gathering.
We eventually dragged ourselves away from the museum and left for Cromwell where we intended to stay for the night. We took the back road to Clyde (Earnscleugh Road) past the major dredge tailings we visited last year. - the entry is still unsigned as we pointed out to the museum curator. She was surprised and was going to check and correct. We did not stop in Clyde but did drive through the main street which has changed little with time.
We also stopped at a roadside memorial to look over the area, now flooded by the hydroelectric dam, where the finds were made which started the important rush to Dunstan. In 1862 two Californians, Horatio Hartley and Christopher Reilly left the diggings at Gabriel's Gully hoping to win one of the awards for discovering a new Goldfield. They worked their way up the Clutha finding enough gold to keep them confident that better was to come. At one point they panned 40 oz in a week with a single borrowed pan. They kept quiet about their successively better and better finds until they discovered a very rich beach just below where Cromwell is today and where the memorial stands. In the succeeding months they washed a total of 87 pounds of gold with which they returned to Dunedin to claim a reward. They were then told they would only qualify if the new field yielded 16,000 oz in three months, a seemingly impossible change of the goalposts. In fact 70,000 oz was carried out in the remaining 4 months of the year by the Escort as well as that carried by miners. This rush started the major immigration from Australia and changed Otago and perhaps New Zealand for ever.
We stayed at the Top Ten in Cromwell. Cromwell, as we found last year has a lot more to offer than one might expect and, like Naseby, is a good centre from which to explore for several days. This time it was only for a night as we booked for a trip on the Steam Ship Earnslaw the following day and had to move on without even a trip to the Museum to check some points which had come out of the visit to Alexandra.
We covered Arrowtown from the point of view of walks and the old Chinese gold settlement during previous visits however we had never been round the museum because, unlike almost all other museums it makes a considerable charge for entry of $5. It had been recommended so we thought we ought to complete our information gathering in the Otago Goldfields with a visit. Like most of the museums it had a number of interesting old pictures many of them duplicates of ones we have seen before, there were only a finite number taken during the early years. They did however have a number of pieces of equipment in pristine condition including the only example of the Venturi part of a hydraulic elevator, a hydraulic monitor with a selection of nozzles and a small Pelton wheel with open casing, usually all you see is a rusty wheel without the rest of the mechanism. Many of the explanation boards are good, for example the one on the hydraulic elevator equal those by the forestry commission at Naseby. There plenty of exhibits and information beyond Gold so it is worth a visit if you are in the area. We also spent considerable time talking to one of the curators who showed us the archives - the archivist was not there so we could only get an impression of what was available but they seemed comprehensive and they may well have the originals or be able to provide good copies of some of the older pictures.
We finally dragged ourselves away after a while round the town and went to Wanaka taking the Cardrona Road which looks like a shortcut but is not. The Cardrona road has some spectacular views and steep hill climbs but the road itself has been considerably improved recently. We stopped at the Cardrona Hotel for lunch - it used to be one of the famous inns on the Gold Trails.
| Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
Spelling corrections: 8th January, 2016