Some little known Lake Hawea and Wanaka history of gold mining back in the 1880’s

As tourists when we tick the boxes on the must-visit places it can be a bit of a rush. Then it’s easy to overlook other rushes accommodated by the past.

Close to Wanaka and on the very busy road beside Lake Hawea that goes to Haast and South Westland it’s easy to rush by a little creek on the left called Craigburn, and it’s accompanying Dept of Conservation interpretation board, which alerts us to some history of gold mining endeavours upstream back around 1880, mainly in a tributary called Long Gully.

Now days called the Matatiaho Conservation Area it once sported 200 miners, three stores and a butchery, but this development was not long lived as the hope of finding the source of the gold in the very rugged and deeply incised headwaters upstream came to nought. Sadly little evidence of this has survived.

Flowering kanuka and lupins as seen from the DOC track, with a backdrop of Lake Hawea…
Craigburn


About an hour in, the track comes to an end as it drops into seclusion down by the river at some signage, and a small gate in a deer fence…
Craigburn 2


Hunters [permit required] usually frequent the rugged country further to the west [through above mentioned small gate], and to the much steeper southern areas including Mt Burke…
Craigburn 4


Craigburn 3


Lupins by the carpark…
Craigburn 5

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Southern Light's Donald Lousley

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