Steeped in history with a dazzling landscape, St Bathans is famed for its startling Blue Lake and the Vulcan Hotel, said to be haunted.
Nested under Mt St Bathans and surrounded by the spectacular Hawkdun Ranges and Dunstan Mountains, St Bathans is approximately 40 minutes drive northeast of Alexandra and 25 minutes from Ranfurly. Turn off Highway 85 just past Becks onto St Bathans Loop Road and travel for 15 minutes.
Established in 1863, this Central Otago town once consisted of more than 2000 miners and a surprising 13 hotels. Now the permanent population is less than 10. View restored stone fences, the Anglican Church, bank, stone houses, school ruins, Catholic Church and billiard hall. A highlight is the two-storey high Kauri Post Office (1909).
The Blue Lake was created during the Otago gold mining era. It started as a hill and was reduced to a pit from which shafts and then hydraulic elevators brought up gravel for sluicing. In its day it was the deepest mining hole in the Southern Hemisphere. When mining stopped, it flooded full of water. The blue color of the lake is caused by the mineral content of the surrounding, visually striking cliffs.
The famous Vulcan Hotel, constructed of sun dried mud brick, dates back to 1882. It is said to be haunted by a female ghost, which was the inspiration behind the name of a local triathlon event, Ghost to Ghost. A shamrock on the front facade of the Vulcan is a reminder of the rivalry between the Irish settlers from St Bathans and the Welsh settlers from nearby Cambrians, known as The War of the Roses.
Enjoy swimming and boating on the lake, admire the amazing colours all around or conjure up images of yesteryear with a stroll down St Bathans’ main street.