Bannockburn Sluicings
Image: Becker Fraser Photos ©

Introduction

This vanished landscape is New Zealand’s own wild west: The Bannockburn Sluicings are the scarred landscapes of a short-lived goldmining era.

Highlights

A desert made by water, large scale water blasting left a landscape transformed by humankind’s pursuit of possibility. 

Visit the remains of the dams, water races, rock tailings and caves left untouched since the last of the goldminers. This spectacular man-made landscape that can be explored on foot or bike via various tracks. 


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Track overview

3.5 km loop

Walking and tramping

1 hr 30 min Easy: Walking track

Mountain biking

Intermediate: Grade 3

Dog access

Dogs on a leash only

About this track

Getting there

Travel 6 km south-west through Cromwell, and cross Lake Dunstan to get to Bannockburn. This site can be accessed from Felton Road. 

For those with little time, there are vantage points that can be reached by car, and walks that take just 10 minutes. If you’ve got more time to spare, trace the water source back up to the Menzies Dam in Stewart Town. There are remains of a stone cottage, an early 19th century orchard, and great views across Cromwell and Bailey’s Gully. 

History and culture

As you drive towards the Bannockburn Badlands, set the tone with some sombre western tunes because what you’re about to see ain’t pretty. It’s tragically beautiful. This desert made by water is not a natural site, but the 150-year-old aftermath of goldminers’ dreams, and a technique known as ‘hydraulic sluicing’ where water was blasted at the hills to release the gold.

The Bannockburn Badlands can’t be experienced from a distance; you have to walk it to understand it. What looks desolate from the entrance turns into a rough, raw and rewarding walk through a valley of caves, tunnels and rock tailings left untouched since abandoned by the last of the mining men.

As an iconic heritage site, the shock of the old will take you to the edge of understanding, and give you a chance to reflect that it was people who made this place. Life today is still about prospecting and searching for the unknown. Venture into the Bannockburn Badlands and pursue the possibilities. 

Contacts

Kā Moana Haehae / Alexandra Office
Phone:   +64 3 440 2040
Email:   alexandra@doc.govt.nz
Address:   43 Dunstan Road
Alexandra 9320
Full office details
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