St. Bathans

This is an old Central Otago gold mining town 40 minutes drive from Alexandra and 20 minutes from Ranfurly. It is steeped in history with 100-plus year old buildings outnumbering the more recent scattering of holiday homes. The town has a permanent residency of about 10; somewhat different to the 1000 or more who lived here in 1864. And that doesn’t count the 1000 more then living in the hinterland, also seeking their fortune!

The old buildings still standing are fascinating to see and a stroll down the main street (there is only one) is most rewarding. From the old hospital down past the post office, bank, hall, hotel, and private residences, it is a walk through yesteryear. Some buildings may be entered and interiors viewed but others can only be seen from the roadway. This short walk may well end with refreshment at the Vulcan Hotel, the only hotel still standing of 15 that were once frequented by the thirsty miners .

A longer walking option is a track that runs from opposite the Vulcan around the side of the Blue Lake. The lake was originally the Kildare Gold Mining Company claim and vast riches were elevated out of this ‘hole’ from the 1860’s. Mining was stopped when the claim was getting too close to the township and the mine water supply was in jeopardy. The walk is an easy 2 km 1 hour along the spectacular cliffs and sluiced areas with iron remnants still scattered around. Spectacular views over this picturesque swimming and boating lake are to be had with many photo opportunities. It is a loop track (not all the way around the lake) and there are many open areas to stop and soak up the scenery on the way. The walk is easy to follow on a formed track with markers and boardwalks. This is a conservation area and fully protected.

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