The Aorere Goldfield
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.
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