Doctor’s Point is an extensive and extremely well-preserved alluvial Central Otago gold mining site that was subject to a great deal of activity in its day.
The gorge has a rich mining history, but some of the evidence was lost with the formation of Lake Roxburgh when the hydro Roxburgh Dam was commissioned in 1956. Fortunately, Doctor’s Point survived.
It is accessible via the five-hour Roxburgh Gorge Walk from Graveyard Gully Cemetery in Alexandra. There are many points of interest on the track including preserved stone shelters of Chinese miners, crumbling stone huts and sluicings. The only other access is by boat.
The workings at Doctor’s Point run approximately 500 metres along Lake Roxburgh and 200 metres up from the shore.
There are substantial tailings and stonewalled races that provided water from Shanty Creek on the lower workings. Some 70 metres above there is a large excavation complete with a crane running on a cable, a water-powered winch and the remains of tramways. Not far from there is an impressive rammed-earth holding dam with stone buttresses. There are also remnants and tools of a former blacksmith’s forge site. Near the lake there are three well preserved stone huts and further upstream there is an eel smoking chimney.
Gold was first discovered on a shelf at Doctor’s Point in 1877. Mining was difficult due to large boulders and a shortage of water, but returns were good. In 1913 gold was discovered even higher up. Heavy machinery was erected, but the same problems persisted. Mining resumed once more as part of a government scheme during the depression (1930s) and there was an influx of some 80 miners. The main race was refurbished using steel fluting and many stone huts were upgraded at the time.