Otago Road Trip Part 3

I can’t seem to help waking up early.  Since it was Sunday and nothing would open until 10 I filled in time by going for a walk at Butcher’s Dam, about 5min south of Alexandra.

What a lovely day!

There are several tracks in the area.  I went around a 4km loop that took about 1hr.

Another reconstructed mining hut

Coloured soils exposed by sluicing

Lye Bow’s wall

Lye Bow was a Chinese miner and merchant.  The wall is on private property.

Water races

Back in town – the old bridge

From here I drove up to Clyde.  It’s another tiny town formed during the gold rush.

Centre of town

I wandered about looking at the old buildings.  There is a good brochure available for a self-guided tour.

Benjamin Naylor’s house, 1884, still owned by the family

Tyrell’s house, 1860s.

Over the summer season Clyde is holding markets on the first Sunday of each month.

Usual vaguely fancy market goods for sale. I bought a ciabatta.

Up the road a bit is the lovely Lake Dunstan.


But the lake has only existed since 1992.  Why?

The Clyde Dam!

NZ generates about 50% of its electricity from hydroelectric stations.  This one produces 430MW.

I continued up the road to Cromwell.

Note the historic buildings by the lakeside on the left. That’s where the original centre of town was. Most is now underwater, including Mk I Zephyr on the bridge (allegedly).

I collect pictures of large things at town entrances.  Rakaia has a giant salmon, Ohakune has a giant carrot, Manaia has a giant loaf of bread, etc.  Going to Cromwell was a pilgrimage for me.


I had a quick visit to the I-site and museum (very early 80s) and headed up to Arrowtown.

Protected historic town

Now it has a lot of affluent tourists visiting since it is almost a suburb of Queenstown.  It was a main centre for gold in the 1860s and the buildings have been preserved since they were left behind at the end of the rush, and they now have preservation orders.  If only more areas had similar heritage protection.

I had a plan to rent a 4WD and head up to Macetown.  However rental companies won’t insure vehicles on that road.  I tried for a bicycle but they have a ban on rental bikes going up there too!  It’s a 6-8 hour walk so I decided to look around Arrowtown.  There is a small park with remians from the 1880s Chinese settlement.  This includes one of the best HPT sites in NZ.

Are you ready?

Here it is:


To my knowledge the only heritage-listed long drop in NZ.

There are several other buildings.

Ah Lum’s store


Restored huts

Larger hut

Unrestored hut

I had a look around the museum.  It’s inside the I-site and is $8.  It’s a real regional museum with random exhibits (gold mining, butter churning implements, old hatch from TSS Earnslaw, random brewing equipment) but reasonably well-presented.  It’s quite 70s with a lot of mannequins.

For example in the bakery

Arrowtown is a bit schmancy for my tastes with a lot of rich people driving 4Wds and drinking lattes crowding out the town.  I returned to Cromwell and stayed at the Pinot Lodge (formerly Rosebud Accommodation).  When I entered my lodge room it came across as very much like Dieppe barracks at Burnham Camp.  Then I realised the whole place would have been the accommkodation for the dam workers, built in the 1970s.  Government issue Formica gives it away.

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