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The Aorere Goldfield

Water Race

The Aorere Goldfield is noteworthy on several counts - it was the country's first major goldfield, it was the first at which sluicing was used, and the first at which the diggers got together to set down their own regulations. Interesting too is the fact that both quartz and alluvial gold occurred close together, and that other minerals (particularly silver) were mined as well.

The first gold was found in February 1857, and by September, there were over 1000 men in the area. The rush lasted for 3 years during which Collingwood was touted as the capital of New Zealand, but then the spectacular finds in Otago and the West Coast drew the miners away.

There are a number of goldfields in the Aorere Valley, in fact most of the eastern side of the valley was mined at one time or another, however the main public area is the one now signposted and tracked by the Department of Conservation.

To get to the goldfield, travel up the Aorere Valley from Collingwood, turn left at Rockville along a dirt road leading to the ‘Devils Boots’ (and also to Te Anaroa Caves). The goldfield road continues after the Devils Boots, it is in a state of disrepair and recommended for vehicles with a high wheelbase although ordinary cars can get to the first carpark. After about 1km, there is a farm gate, where you can park, or continue through, but please close the gate after you. Then the road is on a farm track and it is another 1km to a small area with a carpark sign.

To see all the features of the walk at a leisurely pace you should allow most of a day, so take some lunch and water. Apart from the caves, there is little shade in summer so you should wear a hat. There is a fire ban over the whole of the area so please do not light a fire for a billy or barbecue and be especially careful with cigarette butts.

Gold Workings

There is a series of loop tracks, all well signposted, the main features are: the deep and gloomy Staffords Cave, the bright and airy Ballroom Cave, the water race, and the beautiful lake of Druggans Dam. At the start, the track climbs gently through pakihi scrub vegetation, past Druggans Flat, the site of recent gold mining operations and up into the limestone country where the soil becomes more fertile and the bush can grow. Please do not go off track, as there are many dangerous and deep abandoned mining shafts in the scrub; consider all tunnels to be loose and dangerous.

For those who want a more in-depth exploration of the area, there are guided walks to Moonlight Flat, Slateford, old huts, cave dwellings, the Johnson's United Stamper and other relics of those incredible days.

For mountain bikers, the road round the Aorere Goldfields provides an interesting and challenging exercise, bikes can be hired in Takaka.

Continue to read information about the >>>> Kaituna Walk

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