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Alexandra's Clock

  • Diameter: 11m
  • Minute Hand: 5.6m including the counterweight.
  • Hour Hand: 4m including the counterweight.
  • Weight: Each hand weighs approximately 270kg. The driving mechanism weighs approximately 760kg.
  • Mechanism: Reduction gearboxes powered by one 3/4 hp synchronous motor.
  • Lighting: 150 torch bulbs, powered by a reduction transformer.
  • Structure: Six vertical steel columns averaging 7.3m in length, supported on concrete foundations, fastened into the rock face with steel supports.
  • Location: On the Knobbies Range to the east of Alexandra.
  • Height Above Sea Level: 200m.

The Beginning

The idea of a clock on the hill was first suggested by Alexandra Jaycee Inc. in June 1966. Many different ideas were investigated. Various firms throughout New Zealand were approached and asked to submit designs and prices. Prices obtained for the construction ranged from $2,200 to $12,170. A Dunedin firm of engineers, which had had no previous experience in clock making, were finally given the task of designing and supplying the driving mechanism for the clock. In April 1967 the Jaycees disclosed their plans to the public of Alexandra. A full size mock-up was placed on the site, and six weeks allowed to gauge local reaction. Such a large scale project could not be undertaken without the full support of the people of the town. As there was much opposition to the original scheme, a poll was held, revealing that over 90% of the people were in favour of the clock.

Work on the Clock

The clock mechanism was ordered in February 1968. The clock face and supporting structure were designed by an engineer in the Jaycee Chapter. All construction work was carried out by members. A total of 1264 man hours were involved in the construction of the clock, on 42 separate working occasions. One of the main difficulties was the inaccessibility of the site. This was overcome by erecting a 30.5m rail line down the face of the cliff. Most of the steel and concrete used on the site, as well as the clock mechanism which weighed 760kg, went down this rail before being winched into position. Most of the work on this project involved the construction of the clock structure. A wide range of tasks had to be done, including trench digging for electrical cables, laying concrete for foundations, welding and painting. This last aspect was very important, as the steel uprights had to be painted in such a way that they became completely camouflaged against the rock face. Work began in earnest in June 1968. Within five months - by the end of November 1968 - the clock was finished. After three weeks of testing, it was officially started by the Mayor of Alexandra, Mr K W Blackmore, at noon, 14 December, 1968.


Mechanism and accessories including foundations, steel markers, electrical connection, painting, sundry, totalled $2,996.

Driving Mechanism

The clock is electrically operated. The hands, which are cantilevered to withstand gusts of wind up to 130kph, are attached to coaxial shafts. These are driven continuously through reduction gears by a 3/4HP synchronous motor. A second motor and clutch provided in the gear train enable the hands to be altered should any adjustment be necessary because of power failure.


Very early in the planning stages it was decided that the clock was to be illuminated. None of the firms approached in New Zealand could satisfactorily provide, and guarantee, effective lighting of the clock. Indirect lighting in the form of ultra-violet lamps was considered, but was not practical. Direct lighting with spotlights shining on the face would not work because of the shadows that were cast. It was left to the initiative and inventiveness of a member to provide a strikingly effective, simple, and inexpensive solution to the problem. Ordinary torch bulbs, 150 in all, were used, especially set into the hands and markers. All the designing, wiring and installation was arranged and supervised by this member. The end result is so striking that the clock can be read clearly up to five miles away

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