There’s gold in those hills!

New Zealand is a country of many discoveries and today’s is the Otago gold rush of the 1860s! Did you know there was one? No…? Me neither! So today we went looking for gold in those hills…or to be more precise, those rivers!

But first a contrast – overnight rain had disappeared and dried out leaving overcast skies at dawn but snow on the mountain across the road (well, lake actually). So compare this view with that from last Friday.

Snow overnight

We have the hire car for the last day today and asked the locals where’s a nice place for a half day out. They recommended Arrowtown (about 25km away) as a ‘Western type’ town. And Western as in John Wayne and not Cornwall. And we were not disappointed as the following show. It’s a true Victorian colonial type rural/mining settlement built by gold diggers and seems to be thriving as a tourist and retail venue today.


Miners cottages
Farmers market

To aid comparison – think Hahndorf, Adelaide and Niagara on the Lake, Ontario and I’m sure somewhere in the UK.

The group decide to walk one of the old trails – nominally 8km and 3 hours for ‘fit and able’ walkers but care was advised. Off we set – in the wrong direction! I need to remember that the sun is in the North at midday! It’s mucking up my internal compass no end!

After 30 mins, we’d made it to the first resting point before heading almost vertically up the mountainside. Now, without wishing to disparage my walking colleagues – none of us were prepared for such terrain, none of us are experienced walkers and none of us will see our 20th birthday again unless we’re cryogenically frozen and brought back to life!

So we decided after an hour that discretion was the better part of valour and it would be British and proper to know when we’re faced with overwhelming odds! Coming down the mountain was more physical than going up but the views in each direction were worth it. I hope you agree.

Refreshed by a local ice cream we headed back to return the hire car but stopped at the Edith Cavell bridge to watch the fast boats in the gorge. You can just about make out the look of fear in the faces of the paying passengers!

Edith Cavell bridge
And you can just see the fear in their…

The return of the hire car was fraught with challenge but that’s for another forum! All I’ll say is jobsworths are everywhere!

I’m sure they had them in the Gold Rush but what’s certain is that this country and this trip keeps coming up with gold medal standard stuff – not least the Otago ‘burgundy’ at dinner last night.

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