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Otago Dam Walk – Gabriel’s Gully

Home  »  South Island Walks  »  Lawrence  »  Otago Dam Walk – Gabriel’s Gully – Walk detail

The Otago Dam walk is a medium grade walk over 2.7km which will take you around 1 to get to. Total round trip walk is about 2 hours. Otago Dam is in the heart of Gabriel’s Gully, one of the richest and longest lasting gold fields in central Otago. 4,000 gold miners worked the Gabriel’s Gully gold fields in 1860. A water race ran from Otago Dam down to Gabriel’s Gully for hydraulic elevating.

Quick Facts

        • Location: South Island NZ
        • Distance: 2.70 kms
        • Time needed: 1 Hour
        • Difficulty: Medium
        • Wheelchair Access: No
        • Route: Double back
        • Elevation: 210m
        • Wet Feet: Yes
        • Toilets: No
        • Dogs: Leash only
        • Mobile Coverage: No
        • Last Updated: November, 2019
  • Track Highlights

    I must say walking along the water races was the highlight for me. The bush is not that interesting, I did see signs of a stag and a hind walking along the track at the fourth creek crossing.

  • Track Quality

    We had a day of light rain the day before the walk, this made the track a little sticky for the first 300 Mt, then I was walking in the bottom of the water race that flowed from Otago Dam down to Gabriel’s Gully. The six narrow creek crossing could be a challenge for those who do not like rock hopping otherwise you will get your socks wet, the rocks were slippery. The one steep, short climb up to the second water race was not too much of a work out. Otherwise this is an easy to follow track with a lot of interesting scenery.

  • Hazards

    DOC have a track closure sign pasted on one of the boards to chase people away, why I do not know??? Unless you are blind and have three left feet don’t go.

  • Transport

    No transport that I know of from Lawrence to Gabriel’s Gully, the three Km drive or peddle is easy.

  • Water

    No drinking water at Gabriel’s Gully. The water in the creek you walk up looked OK.

  • Driving Instructions

    The Blue Spur Road is in the middle of Lawrence. The road is sealed and easy to follow, Gabriel’s Gully is on your right 3.4 Km up Blue Spur Road.

  • Shops or Restaurants nearby

    Lawrence has a well supplied small supermarket and three cafes, in case you get hungry.

  • Area & Track History

    Edward Peters found gold in the streams around Lawrence in 1857. It was Peters’ success that drew Gabriel Read to Gabriel’s Gully. Gabriel’s Gully was four kilometres long and had up to 2,000 miners digging in their 8 Mt by 8 Mt claim at any one time. They moved entire hill sides to reach the gold, so today if you are standing in Gabriel’s Gully, you will be standing 50 meters above the original miners claims. They built 400 miles of water race ways and built over a dozen dams to feed the water race ways. In the year 1860 Gabriel’s Gully was the first and largest gold fields in Otago. In one year alone, 256 ships arrived in port Chalmers Dunedin with men and women looking to make their fortune in the Otago gold fields. This made Dunedin the largest and richest city in NZ. There is a story of two men, Horatio Hartley and Christopher Reilly arriving in Dunedin with (39.5 kilograms) of gold in there saddle bags, this made then the most popular men about town. In 1880 the easy picking’s were getting harder to find, so panning for gold was taken over by hydraulic elevating mining. Now the big companies started taking over the old workings, by 1912 the big companies finish up their gold mining operation with 51,500 oz of gold in their pockets. 1975 saw the New Zealand Forest Service take over as caretakers of Gabriel’s Gully and turned Gabriel’s Gully into an historic goldfields site.

  • Best Things To Do near this walk

  • Map location of Otago Dam Walk - Gabriel's Gully

    Map of walk

Gray's Dam Car Park

When you drive into Gabriel’s Gully car park, take the dirt road to the right. The 200 Mt drive will see you at Grays Dam. There is plenty of car parking, but stay off the grass, if it has been raining, you might get stuck. To the left of Gray’s Dam is the start of the track.

First creek Crossing

Walk to the left of Gray’s Dam and up and over the narrow track and through the pines trees. This was the only muddy section of the walk. The first creek crossing is just around the corner, this is where a walking stick comes in handy to stop you getting a boot full of water.

First water Race

I crossed the creek with dry boots, then it was up a small climb and back out into the sun again, where I can look up the valley and get an idea of where the track was going. The first water race is just around the corner, 9 minutes from the first creek crossing.

The second creek crossing

By now you have concurred the creek crossing and are left with the short enjoyable hill climb. To start off, there is a squeeze around a rock outcrop then up you go. The old wooden steeps put there to help you with the climb have rotten away many years ago. There has been no maintenance on this track for at leased ten years. The bush in this section of track is not so over grown. As you walk onto the next water race sneak along, don’t make a sound, you might walk onto a wild deer. There was some very old pig rooting along this track as well.

3rd creek

This section of the track was very enjoyable. All I needed as I walked along the water race was a gold pan and my swag and I could have been back in the 1860 making my fortune. If you look hard you might see the steel bolts in the rock face and the well placed stone wall to hold back the valuable water.

Last climb

This section if fast and easy, you will cross the last three creek crossing with in ten minutes.

Otago Dam

Straight up into the pine trees from the last creek crossing. The track was slippery until I reached the pines, I turn around and look back down the creek and out to Gabriel’s Gully just as I reach the pines trees. The track continues on past Otago Dam for five minutes and meets up with a forestry road. You could ask in Lawrence, if the forestry road is open, you could arrange a car to pick you up and save to walk back.

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Contact info

Gabriels Gully 9591, New Zealand

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