Home' Otago Southland Farmer : October 19th 2012 Contents 19.10.12 Farmer
with Juliet Selbie
Just what were your ancestors doing at this time all those years ago? Were they amongst the many
thousands of people who came to New Zealand and ventured into the many corners of their new
home-land to seek their fortune and a better lifestyle?
Today, many New Zealand families can proudly trace their first connection to the country from these
The journey of many of those who came to New Zealand shores in the late stages of the 1800s, will
come under the spotlight this weekend when 150 years of gold in the Central Otago area will be
While many parts of Otago are synonymous with gold, it is these spectacular and nostalgic events
planned for various centres across the interior regions of this province, that will enable many to take a
trip back through time to a golden era of New Zealand's history this coming weekend.
Over 140 years ago the young province of Otago was excited with the news of the discovery of gold.
The first find was in the Lindis River early in 1861, before the better known discovery in Gabriel's
Gully at Lawrence in May 1861. By July of that year, there were about 150 men at work in Gabriel's
Gully and by September of the same year, about
6,000 people in total were on the diggings. Many
of these people had deserted their work, homes
and families in search of fortune. Otago became
a scene of social turmoil, the likes of which
had been experienced in the earlier rushes of
California, New South Wales and Victoria.
Rich finds in the Dunstan (Cromwell Gorge)
further fuelled gold fever in Otago. The rush
to the Dunstan started in August 1862, and by
November of that year, miners had worked their
way up into the Arrow and Shotover Rivers.
On August 22, 1862 New Zealand's pioneering
history changed with the quest for gold when,
some months after Gabriel Read found gold in the
Tokomairiro, two Californian goldminers, Horatio
Hartley and Christopher Riley lodged 87 pounds of
gold wrested from the interior of the province of
Otago with the Dunedin gold buyer's office.
This launched the Central Otago gold rush.
Goldmining transformed the Otago province and
Dunedin became the commercial and industrial
centre of New Zealand during this time. A known
total of 2 million ounces of gold was taken out of
Otago by June 1867.
Much remains across the Otago province to evoke the spirit of those golden days. At various places,
examples of mining equipment and machinery, deep mine shafts and tunnels, and impressive sluiced
cliffs, and tailings in many forms, remain to tell the story of mining in this harsh climate. The dry
Central Otago climate has also helped to protect mud and stone buildings.
But amongst all these historical treasures, a thought needs to be spared for the hardships experienced
by the people of this era: travelling many miles on foot or by horse, dealing with excruciatingly hot or
cold conditions, trusting nobody while dealing with the frustrations of minimal finds on their claims --
they were not easy times.
In the many towns
which were born
of the gold days,
you will find today
features - colourful
old pubs, restaurants
in restored stone
and replica shops -- all
reminiscent of the
Well done to the
organisers of this
'golden festival' to
celebrate a special
aspect of the region's
history. It is certainly
destined to be a
golden weekend in
Visit your local
store for the full range
200 Spey Street, Invercargill 9810
Ph: 03 218 6778
"total flooring solutions"
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150 years ago - 1862
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