Gold mining history, Central Otago
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Carrick Range / Nevis

Amid utterly spectacular mountainous and valley scenery of the Carrick Range/Nevis area lies widespread evidence of the hard-rock Central Otago gold mining that persisted there for decades. It includes a huge waterwheel; and in the remote Nevis, a virtually unchanged goldfield.

Many of the remains are accessible via a mostly ascending, 14.7km walking/four wheel drive track from Bannockburn; turn off Schoolhouse Road onto Quarzville Road. The track passes the sites of Quartzville and Carricktown, stone remains, battery foundations, tailings, stone dams and underground workings. Be aware of collapsed mine shafts; many are obscured, so stick to the track.

The Young Australian waterwheel is a further 3km further on. It can also be reached from Duffers Saddle on a descending four wheel drive road that is impassable during winter. Situated 1100 metres above sea level the 7.9 diameter restored wood and iron waterwheel is impressive. It was dragged up the mountain in 1874 to drive the 10-stamper battery at the Young Australian workings. The battery’s remains are on the opposite side of the gully. There are a couple of stone huts nearby.

The upper and lower sections of the remote Nevis valley are separated by a gorge. Both sections were worked using the full range of mining methods including cradling, paddocking, sluicing, tunnelling and dredging during operations from 1863 to the 1960s and again in the 1990s.

Most evidence is from the later technology of hydraulic lifts and dredges. The steep shingle faces, dredge ponds, races and piles of tailings are a compelling sight.

Access is from Bannockburn up over Duffers Saddle on the Carrick Range and then down to The Crossing in the lower Nevis Valley. The road through the gorge into the upper Nevis to Garston is four wheel drive only and closed in winter.
The Young Australian waterwheel - Photography by Matthew Sole

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