The classic herringbone pattern at the Quartz Reef Point tailings offers a remarkable and pristine depiction of early Central Otago gold mining methods.
This historic reserve is accessible via a walk through private property to a viewing platform. The car park is on SH8 between Cromwell and Tarras. Cross the road and follow the marker poles to the right and up a rise to the entrance gate. From here there are also views across to Lake Dunstan, Cromwell and the Pisa Range.
The gold bearing site at Quartz Reef Point attracted the early miners. There was a recorded 60 people there in 1965, but little is known about them. Water appears to have been sourced from nearby streams and stored in a series of dams that no longer exist, up the slope. Like a nearby stone hut, the system of schist-lined races leading to the site has long since become obscured and is no longer visible
The remarkable sluicing channels and herringbone tailings left behind are from the ground sluicing method used to work the terraces. This typically required the channelling of water to the head of a claim to soften the working face. Larger stones would be removed and stacked, row after row, in the herringbone pattern. The washed material would then be directed through a sluice channel, possibly lined with rolled up tussock or hessian if it was available, to separate the gold from the gravel.
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.
For your own safety and in the interests of preserving these unique tailings please stay on the track and the platform.