This relic of Central Otago's gold mining days is virtually unmodified since being abandoned many years ago. In 1865 there were at least forty miners here but little is known of their success or otherwise. Their legacy is the neat and symmetrically stacked rock heaps made as they progressively worked their way up the hill. The rock was neatly stacked in walls to ensure the channels and working areas stayed clear. The gravel ‘wash’ was directed down through the side and main channels before running through a sluice channel and riffle boxes to extract the golden wealth. This formed a herringbone pattern and whilst there are other examples this the most undisturbed in the region.
Quartz Reef, or Northburn Tailings as it is also known, is a short walk up the hill from SH8 between Cromwell and Tarras. The walk starts from the DoC sign posted car park at John Bull Creek, 8 km from Cromwell town centre. Cross the style and follow the orange markers right and then up the hill. It is 45 minutes, 2 km to the tailings and back down to the car park. There is a Chinese stone hut passed on the way.
Enter the tailings area and keep within the fenced area to a large viewing platform with interpretation panels explaining the formation and processes of these workings. These tailings are fragile and should not be walked on.
Being high above the road there are magnificent views of Lake Dunstan, Cromwell, and the Pisa Range to enjoy as well. No facilities or water available and reasonable footwear is required.