Author And Researcher
I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.
I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!
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Welcome to the Wild West!! Mini buttes, scarred cliffs and deserted relics left by gold miners.
From Cromwell follow Barry Ave onto Bannockburn Road.
After crossing the Kawarau River, turn right onto Felton Road.
Bannockburn Sluicings Historic Reserve is signposted on the left after 1.7 km. There’s a large parking area.
The track shortly forms a loop.
Taking a left, the even rocky track winds up through the thyme fields with the cliff walls at a distance. Pass the rocky debris around the old Smithy shop.
Eventually you reach the top of the cliffs, where there is a short detour to Stewart Town. Here an old stone building and some heritage fruit trees lie timelessly.
The return descends via the remains of the Menzies Dam through some mini-canyons, with old tunnels and rocky screes fanning out at their bases.
From the mid-1860s, the gold bearing gravels around Bannockburn caught the attention of mining companies.
Using a technique known as sluicing, the cliff faces were systematically disassembled using high speed water jets. An elaborate water race channelled water to the cannons, which forced the fluid through a decreasing diameter pipe, to finally be released with force. By directing the nozzle, the gravels could be dislodged from the working face. The rock was then washed over sluice boxes, where gravity separated the heavier gold from the finer sand.
John Menzies and Dave Stewart realised water was more valuable than gold. They put in the time, effort and money to build the dam that held the water the miners needed to sluice. They made more coin than the gold miners. In winter the reservoir would freeze over and curling became the sport of the day.
South Island ▷ Central Otago ▷ Cromwell
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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍