Nevis Bluff &
– is a unique place where history, magnificent scenery and natural attractions are brought to life. Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the Queenstown site was first settled in 1860 by pioneering sheep drovers (one being William Rees) and later in 1862 by gold prospectors. These prospectors flocked to the area from all corners of the world after the 1862 discovery of gold at Arthurs Point on the Shotover River in the hills north east behind Queenstown. The Shotover River (named after the English estate of one of William Rees’ business partners) once said to be the world’s richest gold-bearing river.
The township was first simply called “The Camp” by its early residents but was named Queenstown in January 1863 at a public meeting. It is reputed that the meeting declared the site to be “fit for a Queen”. By the 1870s, the gold had started to decline as did the population, and the district became predominantly a farming area. Fortunes were made and lost, but these early pioneers left an historical legacy which is now part of today’s new “gold” - a thriving tourism industry.
Arthurs Point, east of Queenstown, is where gold was first discovered in November 1862 in the Shotover River. Up river from the bridge is the Oxenbridge tunnel which took the Oxenbridge brothers 4 years to complete 1906-1910. The aim was to divert the Shotover River and allow its bed to be worked for gold. However, only 90 ounces of gold was recovered from the exposed riverbed. Today, the tunnel is used by the rafters riding down from Deep Creek, situated above the Lower Shotover Canyon.
Gold was first discovered in the Skippers in 1862, and by March 1865 there was a population of 245 people at Skippers. It is thought that at the height of mining in the upper Shotover area there may have been as many as 1500 people in the whole area. Today, only three buildings survive. Two have recently been restored, the 1867 Mt Aurum Station Homestead and the 1879 Skippers School, while the remains of the Otago Hotel lies in ruins.
An hour’s walk up to the Invincible Mine gives magnificent views of Mt Earnslaw and the Rees Valley. At this 1882 mining site, you will find a unique set of seven berdans (cast iron bowls with steel balls for grinding ore) and the remains of a water wheel and crushing battery.
In the valley floor below and alongside the Rees Valley Road, is the 7.9m diameter buddle which is all that remains of the 1884 extraction plant. The buddle was used as part of a method for extracting gold still trapped in the tailings which were brought down from the Invincible Battery, located high above on the mountainside. Both of these sites have been protected to demonstrate last century’s technology of milling and concentrating gold-bearing quartz rock.
PO Box 91
Phone +64 3 445 0111