Bannockburn Sluicings Historic Reserve

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Bannockburn Sluicings are a desert made from large scale water blasting that occurred during the areas’ gold rush.

Beginning in the early 1860s, gold mining in the Bannockburn area continued for 50 years. You can explore the impact of this mining along a 4 km easy track through the Bannockburn Sluicings Historical Reserve, taking around 2 hours to complete.

Visit the remains of the dams, water races, rock tailings and caves left untouched since the last of the gold miners worked this gully.

In 1862 Cromwell came alive when miners discovered gold in Baileys Gully; step back in time and retrace some of their footsteps.

Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location: Central Otago, South Island
  • Distance: 4 km
  • 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 2020

We’ve partnered with Macpac outdoor walking & hiking gear to bring you the very best products designed exclusively for our New Zealand climate. They’ll ship for FREE within NZ on orders over $100 (if under $100 it’s only $5). Worldwide international shipping is available except to the USA. Bulky orders will be $20.

Summary points about this walk

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Points of interest along the walk​

Point 1: Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve Carpark

From Cromwell, head onto Bannockburn Road.  After 5.9 km drive over the bridge at Lake Dunstan. Take the first road on your left, Fenton Road, then drive to the Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve – 1.9 km along the road. There is no toilet or water in the car park.

Point 2: The Sluicing Face

The start of the Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve is 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 information is. I thought this 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 inside 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 grapevines 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 later became watermen, John Menzies and David Stewart. From the old stone house, you can see 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 Stewart died of a heart attack and Menzies fell to his death in 1984 while walking home one night.

Point 5: The Smithy Workshop

The workshop is still there, walk over and have a look. The smithy 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 carpark will take you twenty minutes and it is downhill most of the way.

What sort of walking and hiking gear will you need

We’ve partnered with Macpac outdoor walking & hiking gear to bring you the very best products designed exclusively for our New Zealand climate. They’ll ship for FREE within NZ on orders over $100 (if under $100 it’s only $5). Worldwide international shipping is available except to the USA. Bulky orders will be $20.

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