Don’t get too excited about the gold rush. It finished some time ago.
In the 1860s, the Central Otago Goldfields were a frenzy of hard graft and risky business. Pioneers and adventurers flocked from all over the world in hot pursuit of riches. Braving our unforgiving landscapes, fast-flowing rivers and extreme temperatures – danger was way easier to find than gold.
Among our small towns and vast landscapes, you’ll find many different ways to follow in the fortune-seeking footsteps of the hardy gold miners. Discover how these resilient, innovative and humble pioneers shaped our landscapes as well as our values and who we are.
With walks, museums and experiences that tell the story of the different types of gold mining and the innovative technology that evolved among our river flats, shallows, inland terraces and quartz reefs, you’ll get a sense of how two million ounces of Otago gold went from rock to real world in the 1860s.
Explore Central Otago’s gold mining heritage sites and experiences at your own pace – rushing for gold, or anything else for that matter, is so 1861.
9 Heritage Highlights
Bendigo Historic Reserve
Amble around one of New Zealand’s most lucrative goldfields at Bendigo Historic Reserve. Marvel at the impressive mines high on the steep faces of a gorge at Aurora Creek and explore the crumbling stone cottages of Logantown an Welshtown.
Wander through the sliced hillsides and stark, semi-desert landscape of Bannockburn Sluicings and nearby Stewart Town recongised as a site of national significance through the Tohu Whenua programme.
Take a cruise.
Go with the flow – take a cruise down the Clutha River to see some of the best examples of European and Chinese mining sites.
Take a tour, or fossick for gold.
Take a tour or fossick for gold – if you’re feeling lucky, at the Goldfields Mining Centre on the banks of the Kawarau River.
If your gold bars are stacked and you seek riches of another kind – the kind that relax and recharge you – escape the ever-increasing fast pace of life and enjoy solitude and peace in our small, historic towns, many born of the gold mining era.
Looking at the charming old buildings, you could be forgiven for thinking our towns are stuck in the past. But, they’re actually way ahead of their time. All these historic banks, halls and stables have been repurposed, redesigned, and refurbished to suit the needs of today — yep, they even have WIFI.