Central Otago Gold Heritage

They came in their thousands – Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, Chinese, Italians and others – pioneers; adventurers – willing to break new frontiers and risk everything to seek their fortunes on the Central Otago goldfields.

Those hardy men ventured into mountain ranges and swift rivers, they endured searing summers and freezing winters, experienced huge thrills and tremendous sorrow, facilitated booming commerce and created technological innovations that led the world. These people shaped a landscape and left a social and cultural legacy that is part of what makes Central Otago so unique.

Discover towering sluiced cliffs, herringbone tailings and tailing piles, tunnels, water races, tailraces, dams, mining equipment, substantial machinery, impressive stone masonry, mud-brick cottages and assorted relics. The region’s dry continental climate has ensured all has been preserved, much as it was.

The range of evidence represents different types of gold mining, changing technology and miners’ lifestyles. Many of today’s towns are born of the gold rush era.

Central Otago rivers were rich with gold and the focus of the early alluvial mining of river flats and shallows during the first rush in the early 1860s. Dredging (1880s–1920s) ploughed the riverbeds and eventually the inland terraces and beyond and is responsible for most of the altered landscapes.

Hard-rock mining of the quartz reefs (most active 1860s–1880s) required different techniques and machinery. The third rush (1950s-1960s) reworked some old fields.

Some 2-million ounces of gold was taken out of Otago by June 1867. Exactly how much more was found, is uncertain. Nevertheless, richness continues to abound in the landscapes and relics that remain.

Follow in the footsteps of the adventurers before you. Marvel at their feats, be awed by their audacity and revel in the excitement of your discoveries and the historic treasures on the Central Otago goldfields.


The Bendigo goldfields were some of New Zealand’s most lucrative. Numerous walking tracks lead to the historic remains. Look for mine shafts above Aurora Creek; the Matilda and Aurora batteries; water races; pipelines and the stone remains of Pengelly’s Hotel and at Logantown.

Come in time

The Come-in-Time quartz reef was the last one discovered at Bendigo. The claim area is today an historic treasure. With easy access to the mine entrance and a fully restored stamper battery it offers a rare and almost complete picture of hard-rock quartz mining in Central Otago.

Doctor's Point

Doctor’s Point is an extensive and extremely well-preserved alluvial gold mining site. Near the lake there are well preserved stone huts an eel smoking chimney. Explore further to see substantial tailings and stonewalled races, remnants and tools of a former blacksmith’s forge site and more.

Lonely graves

The Lonely Graves at Horseshoe Bend are a poignant reminder of the tragedies that went hand in hand with the achievements of Central Otago pioneers. A headstone that reads “Somebody’s Darling Lies Buried Here” is the starting point for this touching story which has become firmly entrenched in local lore.

Bannockburn Sluicings

The sliced hillsides and stark landscape of Bannockburn Sluicings and nearby Stewart Town offer dramatic perspectives and much evidence of gold miners’ workings. A well marked two-hour round walk takes you past the main points of interest. With great views across Cromwell and Bailey’s Gully from Menzies Terrace.

Young Australian / Carricktown

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

Mitchells Cottage

Mitchells Cottage stands apart as an exceptional example of stone masonry. Its near perfect condition is a testament to Andrew Mitchell’s meticulous craftsmanship, which he learnt back in his homeland of the Shetland Islands. It sits in a landscape of schist rock tors against a backdrop of the Old Man mountain range.

Quartz Reef

The classic herringbone pattern at the Quartz Reef Point tailings are left behind from the ground sluicing method used to work the terraces. Located close to Cromwell, the Herringbone tailings offer a great photo opportunity. The sharp, angular faces of the tailings provide strong contrasts of light and shade at different times of the day.

Golden Progress Mine

The Golden Progress quartz mine is located in the Ida Valley just south of Oturehua. It has the only poppet head still standing in Central Otago. The 14-metre high structure sits over a mine shaft 46 metres deep. Concrete blocks mark the spot where the stamper battery once stood.

Earnscleugh Dredge Tailings

The immense Earnscleugh dredge tailings on the south bank of the swift Clutha River near Alexandra represents 100 years (1860s-1960s) of technological advancement in gold mining that led the world. Aside from the impressive tailings there are old dredging ponds, water races, remnants of original ground surfaces, buckets and trommels (screens/sieves).

Otago Central Rail Trail
The Otago Central Rail Trail journeys into the region’s heartland. A 150 Kilometre trail between Clyde and Middlemarch ideal for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Explore this recreational passage of discovery, revealing truly breathtaking treasures not readily accessible by any other means and unlike any other in New Zealand. Read More

Clutha Gold Trail
The Clutha Gold Trail is one of the 'Great Rides' of the Nga Haerenga, New Zealand Cycle Trail. The trail is full of variety - from undulating to flat to meandering, there is a journey of discovery around every corner. Read More

Roxburgh Gorge Trail
A spectacular one-day ride through truly iconic country between Alexandra and Roxburgh Dam along the Clutha Mata-au River is a trail worth exploring. Read More

Alexandra/Clyde - Cycling Trails
Nestled in the expansive Manuherikia Valley surrounded by majestic block-mountains is the commercial hub of Alexandra. Experience the drama of its contrasting seasons – blossoms in spring, the fragrance of wild thyme in summer, the golden glows of autumn and the mystical beauty of winter. Read More

Cromwell/Bannockburn - Cycling Trails
Surrounded by treeless mountain ranges and the powerful Clutha and Kawarau Rivers that converge to form Lake Dunstan, is Cromwell; the place to experience its abundance of sun-ripened fruits, award winning wines and rich mining past. Read More

Ranfurly/Naseby - Cycling Trails
This land of vast open space with tor-studded mountain ranges is timeless. Discover remnants of its gold mining past, the heartland of the high country drover, empty roads and sleepy little townships, and Ranfurly – New Zealand’s rural art deco oasis. Read More

Roxburgh - Cycling Trails
Set in the Teviot Valley amongst farmland and a patchwork of orchards, roadside stalls laden with the best of summer fruits is Roxburgh – home to the ‘world famous’ Jimmy’s Pies, stunning vistas and the mighty Clutha River at its best. Read More

Alexandra / Clyde Area
Alexandra is Central Otago's business and political capital. It is situated at the conjunction of two rivers; the Manuherikia and the mighty Clutha. A little further up the Clutha is the historic gold mining township of Clyde and the immense Clyde hydro dam. Explore beautifully preserved historic buildings, or cycle on of many nearby trails, or sample some local Alexandra basin wines. Read More

Cromwell / Bannockburn Area
You can enjoy a world class wine experience at one of the picturesque cellar doors, sample seasonal fruits or shop in the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. Play a round of golf on an uncrowded course, explore intact historic gold mining treasures or jet boat the Kawarau River. Choose a cycle trail from wine, lake or in the Lindis Pass. Relax and unwind at a variety of accommodation to suit everyone. Read More

Ranfurly / Naseby Area
Discover picturesque quaint historic gold mining towns, marvel at the kiwi ingenuity of impressive farming inventions at Hayes Engineering Works and try your hand at the ancient Scottish ice sport of curling all year round. Cycle spectacular sections of the Otago Central Rail Trail, fish the Taieri or Manuherikia Rivers or simply escape, relax and indulge in any one of the boutique or heritage accommodation available. Read More

Roxburgh Area
Taste exquisite summer fruits of cherries, apricots, plums nectarines, peaches, pears, berries and apples at roadside orchard stalls. Fish for salmon on the Clutha River and trout in high country lakes, cycle or walk established scenic walkways along the river - a must is the Commissioners Walk. Nestled in the valley you will find good quality accommodation from which to base yourself. Read More
Central Otago Food & Wine
Central Otago Food & Wine Central Otago is a place of sheer indulgence – whether it’s fine dining, a casual al-fresco lunch or café culture. You will be spoilt for choice when enjoying local fare and award winning wines at the great selection of cafés, restaurants, cellar doors and country pubs. Read More

Central Otago Towns
Central Otago Towns To travel to Central Otago is to journey into New Zealand’s golden heartland. Its many towns and settlements are founded on the pioneering spirit and back-breaking toil of farming run-holders and adventure-seeking gold miners. These places lie nestled amid the grandeur of towering mountain ranges, stunning rocky tors, sweeping plains, valleys, gorges and meandering and mighty rivers. Read More

Cycle Central Otago
Cycle Central Otago The entire region is criss-crossed with smaller cycling and mountain biking trails for the adventurous or the leisure cyclist and there are lengths to suit any time you might have available. Whether you’re looking to take a holiday with the family, a weekend with friends or a romantic escape, cycling in Central Otago offers something different and memorable. Read More
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