Thomson Gorge Road

This route bisects the Dunstan Mountains and follows the track that led from the Manuherikia Valley to the gold mines of Bendigo in the Upper Clutha Valley. 

The route starts near the old gold mining area of Matakanui and winds its way up through the gorge and over the 900m saddle into the Bendigo area. On the eastern side of the range the views back towards the Hawkdun Range and beyond are unique and awe inspiring. 

Then you are plunged in to history as Thomsons Creek is followed with gold workings all the way to the top. A pleasant place to stop in this area is a stone hut just off the main track, built in 1908 to shelter the drovers and travelers on their arduous journey to and from the goldfields. 

At the saddle crossing the panorama to the west opens out and stunning scenery along the short traverse of the Dunstan Range crest affords magnificent views over the upper Clutha Valley towards Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, and the Southern Alps. 

From this high point the trail winds down through the Rise and Shine Valley to meet State Highway 8 at the Lindis River bridge. Again, you travel through a gold field that was once home to many and bustling with activity. Few reminders remain but a feature that still exists is the Come In Time gold reef stamper, signposted from the track. A short walk takes you down past the tunnel entrance (take a torch and explore) to the restored stamper battery. This magnificent structure remains as a reminder of the scale of the works carried out here. 

This is a dry weather track and has a number of fords to negotiate. Allow for at least a half day excursion or more if you are going to explore on foot.
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