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Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve

Home  »  South Island Walks  »  Cromwell  »  Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve – Walk detail

Bannockburn Sluicings are a desert made by water, large scale water blasting for gold. The walk in the Bannockburn Sluicing historic reserve is 4 km and will take you around 2 hours on an easy track.

Visit the remains of the dams, water races, rock tailings and caves left untouched since the last of the gold miners. This spectacular man-made landscape that can be explored on foot or bike via various tracks. In 1862 Cromwell came alive when Gold was discovered in Baileys Gully.

Quick Facts

        • Location: Central Otago
        • Distance: 4 kms
        • Time needed: 2 Hours
        • Difficulty: Easy
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: Round Trip
        • Elevation: 120m
        • Wet Feet: No
        • Toilets: No
        • Dogs: Leash only
        • Mobile Coverage: Yes
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights

    Walking through the valley with caves, tunnels and rock tailings left untouched since being abandoned by the last of the mining men.

  • Track Quality

    Very good, lots of signs.

  • Hazards

    Can get a bit rocky in parts, but not really.

  • Transport

    You’ll need to make your own way to the walk.

  • Water

    There is no water available on this track.

  • Driving Instructions

    Drive 6 km south-west through Cromwell, and cross Lake Dunstan to get to Bannockburn. This walk can be accessed from Felton Road. If you’re short on time, there are great viewing points that can be reached by car, and walks that take just 10 minutes. If you’ve got more time to spare, trace the water source back up to the Menzies Dam in Stewart Town. There are remains of a stone cottage, an early 19th century orchard, and great views across Cromwell and Bailey’s Gully.

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    Plenty in nearby Cronwell

  • Area & Track History

    As you drive towards the Bannockburn Sluicings, you’ll see it’s a desert, made by water and not a natural site, it’s the 150-year-old aftermath of goldminers’ dreams, and a technique known as ‘hydraulic sluicing’ where water was blasted at the hills to release the gold.

    The Bannockburn Sluicings can’t be experienced from a distance; you have to walk it to understand it. What looks desolate from the entrance turns into a rough, raw and rewarding walk through a valley of caves, tunnels and rock tailings left untouched since abandoned by the last of the mining men.

    As an iconic heritage site, the shock of the old will take you to the edge of understanding, and give you a chance to reflect that it was people who made this place. Life today is still about prospecting and searching for the unknown. Venture into the Bannockburn Sluicings and pursue the possibilities.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve

    Map of walk

Points of interest along the walk

In the map above, if you zoom in on the walk, you’ll see all the following track points and their location. Each point has photos along with a description about each one.

Point 1: Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve Carpark

From Cromwell get onto the Bannockburn Road drive over the bridge at Lake Dunstan, 5.9 km. Take the first road on your left, Fenton Road 200m, then drive to the Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve, 1900M. There is no toilet or water at the car park.

Point 2: The Sluicing Face

The start of the Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve was to the left of the notice boards. Within minutes we came to a turnoff to the left, we turned right and headed to Stewart Town via Bailey Gully and onto the sluicing face where all the interesting info was. I thought is was the most interesting section of this walk.  It would be a good idea to take a torch if you would like to have a walk around one of the tunnels.

Point 3: Menzies Dam

The walk to Menzies Dam was ok, there was a very short hill climb back up the main terrace where you could look down to the valley and understand the size of the sluicing operation and see up close hundreds of grape vines growing away in the sun.

In 1868 John Menzies and David Stewart built the dam to sell water to the miners so they could use hydraulic sluicing. They made more money than the hard working gold miners.The Menzies Dam would freeze over in the winter so the miners would have a break from gold mining and try their hand at ice skating and curling.

Point 4: Stewart Town

Stewart Town was started by the two gold miners who become water men, John Menzies and David Stewart. From the old stone house you can see still standing how they ran their water business. The two men were very generous and helped out with the building of Stewart Town as much as they could. In 1883 David died of a heart attack and John fell to his death 1984 while walking home at night.

Point 5: The Smithy Workshop

This is still there, walk over and have a look. He would have been a busy man repairing broken tools and mending leaky water pipes. The smithy would have made more money than the gold miners, just like John Menzies and David Stewart. From the smithy back to the car park will take you twenty minutes and it is down hill most of the way.

All walks in Cromwell…

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Contact info

143 Felton Road, Bannockburn 9384, New Zealand

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