May 2021 Newsletter


Things are busy as ever in the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust office. There was quite a bit of ‘tidying up’ post Cavalcade to do. A massive THANK YOU from Twizel to all you Cavalcaders who volunteered to donate your dinner, hoedown and breakfast tickets. Thanks to all your generosity the Twizel Cavalcade Committee was still able to deliver some worthwhile funds to local community groups after covering all their costs.

Nearly 30years of Cavalcading!

By Jeanette McKay (29yr Cavalcader!)

Who would have thought, 29 years ago, we would be looking forward to the 30th Cavalcade in 2022!

A wonderful idea thought up by some pretty forward thinking ladies to retrace the old gold trails into Central Otago. The first one a real adventure riding from Rocklands Station following the Dunstan Trail through Maniototo to Alexandra and through the  gorge (true right hand side for the last time before the dam) finishing in Cromwell.

Arriving at Rocklands in a cattle truck with my friend, her horse, my horse, other horses to fill the truck and all our gear for 5 days of riding. Thankfully our gear was all carried by support vehicle. We all slept in the woolshed. Some riders had very little idea of riding in the high country, the weather caught out many the first day with hyperthermia. I had no idea what that was, sure it was wet and cold but luckily I was alright in my wool sox, gym shoes, track pants (no wet weather leggings or thermals), just cotton flannel shirt, wool jersey, rain coat, a fleece hat and gloves!

How Cavalcade times have changed through the years! More trails have been added, walking trails, biking trails and now running trails join in, from providing everything a rider needs on the trail, to now having first class catering 3 meals a day and tea/coffee available in the camp all the time. Port-a-loos instead of long drops – the ground crew had to dig every night to set up canvas cuticles, seats high and low. One year the winds were so great the dunnys blew away to never be seen again and toilet paper unravelling like snakes in the sky! 

There has been a massive change with back up for riders from the early transport trucks and simple floats we now have self contained trucks and goosenecks even some floats are well set up. It’s amazing when riding into camp now its like a well organised village.

The people one meets, the friendships developed, it’s like meeting up with family every year. A yearly event saving up for the registration, getting your horse and self fit and deciding what trail to ride. Most trails now, for myself, I find we ride over places we have been before. It’s still interesting thinking of the old gold miners travelling along these trails and working their claims and dreaming of gold.

Roll on 2022, our 30th Cavalcade converging all into the Millers Flat on the 5th March!

Paying off your Cavalcade Registration:

We are offering Cavalcaders the option to start paying for their cavalcade registration early in a layby system. Here are some things you need to know:

You will need to complete the form by following this link

You will need to make regular payments into the OGHT bank account. You can pay as much as you like as often as you like, e.g. $25 weekly or $50 every two weeks but the treasurer recommends  $100 per month would be good!. 

When registration opens (October for members, November for non members) you will receive a link to register for your preferred trail and you will be able to add hoedown, breakfast, dinner tickets,  merchandise and vehicle ferrying options. When you have finished registering click pay by internet banking by changing the payment option in the drop down box. I will then allocate all the payments made before registration to your registration. When you log back into your registration you will be able to see how much is left owing and adjust payments so your registration is paid in full by 1st January.

VERY IMPORTANT! People who are members* will receive the registration link In October non members November.

Popular trails will sell out during October.

*Memberships run from 1st May -30th April therefore a current OGHT member is someone who has purchased a membership after 1st May 2021. You can update your membership right here right now.

New Zealand Gold Panning Championship 2021

By Stu Ide.

This year saw the  New Zealand Gold panning Championships held in central Otago for the 30th time. Following on from last year, where the competition was held at Alexandra due to COVID, the Gold panning committee decided to hold the championships back in Arrowtown this year and combine it with the Autumn festival.  

Adam Lind was the over-all NZ Champion this year for the first time. Adam has been around the National Champs since he was a wee boy. Being the 30th year of competitions, the panning committee along with the OGHT Committee tried to contact the original founding members

Unfortunately a lot of the original panners have either passed away or moved away from the area. Therefore It was an absolute delight to have Margret and John May attend the Championship. Margret presented the gold pan trophy they had donated for the ladies competition close to 30 years ago. Margaret also mentioned Adam Lind’s Baby daughter who was present, as being the next generation of gold panners that will likely compete in the competition one day. 

For those in attendance, what a great spectacle over the Anzac weekend. Lots of new and up and coming panners along with the traditional die hard panners. Also the support from the OGHT members who helped in the background to keep the competition going were of great assistance.

Prizes donated for the day exceeded $7000.00 and those that were fortunate enough to be placed in the categories went home with a smile on their face as well as a worthwhile prize.

The now traditional “stake your claim” competition had prizes that ranged from Crunchie bar and some delicious honey, to Milford Cruises and Gold Nuggets. This is always a popular fundraiser for the gold panning and keeps the competition going.

Also popular was the “pay dirt” troughs where the public buy a bucket of dirt and pan in troughs under the supervision of some experienced panners to find their own gold. Thank you to Rex, Jeanette and Robyn for all your hard work.

Adam Lind took out the NZ Championship this year with a well deserved win. Adam has worked tirelessly in the background of the competition for years and it was lovely to see his persistence pay off. Congratulations Adam!

A very special thanks goes to Terry and Odette for their contribution for making the day a success along with chairman Rex who was also ready to get his hands dirty and assist with any task delegated to him.

Also a big thank you to the gravel shovelers, gold seeders, time keepers, and the gold panning committee, the gold panning championship would not happen without these fantastic volunteers and Central Otago would lose this special event that commemorates early goldpanners and keeps the tradition of gold panning alive in the area. 

We can not thank our sponsors and volunteers enough for helping with this year’s Championship. What else can I say, it was just a great day.

In Memory of Valmai Beeby.

It is with real sadness we acknowledge the passing of Valmai Beeby. Valmai was a keen walking Cavalcader and regular participant on our OGHT field weekends. 

Knowledge Nuggets

By Roberta Laraman

Did you know:

There are 26 gold bearing countries in the world belonging to the world gold panning association based in Tankavaara, Finland. This place has a gold museum with displays from the 26 countries, including NZ. The golden world property surrounding this place has a replica Chinese miner’s stone hut set in the grounds along with other buildings typical of their country. Justin Eden from Arrowtown is gratefully credited for making this possible a good many years ago.

Gold was discovered in the Lindis river by a road builder camped at sheep dip creek in 1857 well before Gabrial Read found Gold at Gabriel’s Gully.

The first gold dredge was made of wood and cowhide (a spoon dredge) and many were mainly used in the Clutha river near Clyde (the Dunstan) in the early 1860’s. The first ‘Buckets on a chain’ dredge was designed by Franz David Siedeberg and Herman Schultz in 1885 and operated in the Kawarau river near Cromwell. New Zealanders were pioneers in gold dredging technology.

A good Gold Assayer (classifier/buyer) could discern what district/area a deposit came from by the shape, condition and colour of it. Many a stolen cache was detected when the thief tried to sell it out of the assayers province.

When Lake Dunstan was completely filled, some homeowners living near old Cromwell found their silver beet had disappeared overnight or mysterious holes had appeared on their properties. Early miners had tunnelled under the town from the river following a gold seam and the rising waters caused subsidence. Oops!

Raw gold found in Australia is Tax free if bought back to NZ in it’s original state . If melted down it is taxable.

An excerpt from some memeriories of the 1st Cavalcade 1991. The Dunstan trail

First night after being caught in a howling snowstorm  through the day. FREEZING cold. 

One very intelligent, double phD, musician, writer and colorful orator huddled shivering in her sleeping bag, fully dressed plus great coat over the top , watching two women jog over to the men stoking the fire that heated hot water for hot drinks. She watched as they begged hot water for their HOT WATER BOTTLES!

“Now why didn’t I think of that! Here I am with a jolly phD, business awards etc, etc, and not able to foresee the need of a jolly hot water bottle!

To top things off, here they were, the next morning, happily pouring the luke-warm water into their mugs for a quick face wash and teeth clean”!

The Heritage Site Review (by Terry Davis) 

 The number of Heritage Sites revisited and new sites recorded is steadily building up! We are tweaking some processes as we go and starting to train up a few local enthusiasts. We have our eyes set on Clyde later this month – although there are a few well known (and recorded) sites in Clyde we were surprised to discover just how many pre 1900 buildings and stone walls/fences are not recorded anywhere. This is the whole point of the project, to fill in the gaps in our archaeological historical picture!

If you are keen to be involved in recording or restoring heritage sites in your area please get in touch with Terry and he’ll get you started! (Either yourself, or someone you can work closely with will need to have good internet and computer skills)

Field Trips coming up

Our AGM will be held 16th and 17th October in the Queenstown area. Starting with a day trip into the Skippers, dinner and AGM that evening back in Queenstown then Sunday morning tour a talk by local enthusiasts. We will remind you again closer to the time.

We are also trying to plan a couple of days around old dredges in or near the Clutha River. This could happen within the next 6 weeks? There will be some walking over uneven ground but for the majority of the dredge ruins we are looking at jetboat access up and down the river between Roxburgh and just below Millers Flat. This has to be carefully planned around low water levels. We are in communication with Contact Energy (who control the flow) and will keep an eye on the weather and get back to you once a date is secured. Please fill out this form here to show your interest. 

This youtube link on the   History of Otago Gold Dredges

20th November – day-trip into the Nevis to replace some information signage and get a talking to by some descendants of Nevis gold miners and current gold miners still working active claims.

We need your help!

We want to report to the ORC on the condition of the large Goldfields trail  signs and ask if some of the damaged ones could be replaced. If you are ever near one of the big Otago Goldfields trail signs can you take some photos and email them to us? We need good clear photos of the sign and damage to signs. Please make a note of the date you took the photo and the condition of it. Thanks very much. 

Welcome John Wekking!

John is a new OGHT member and Committee member and now an administrator on our Facebook page. John is an accomplished photographer and keen video editor… keep an eye out for his posts on our facebook page’s here. and here 

All the best. Keep warm this winter. We will see you out and about!

Terry and Odette in the office. 

03 4450111


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