Druggans Dam Gold Walk, Aorere Valley
Image: Shellie Evans | ©
From the Aorere Goldfields car park a 4WD track passes an old ground-sluicing claim worked in the 1880s. This track is only suitable for 4WD vehicles. This 4WD track continues onto the large open area partly covered by pakihi vegetation which is Druggan's Flat.
From here the track climbs steadily, passing a side track that leads to the untouched bush of Stanton's Creek. It then follows part of the original benched miners' track. At the first junction, continue straight ahead. On the right you pass the end of a water race and a tunnel before the short side track to Stafford's Cave.
Stafford's Cave and Ballroom Cave (accessed by short side tracks a little further on) can both be explored if you are equipped with appropriate clothing, a torch and some care.
Early miners recorded their names on some of the formations within these caves; please take care not to disturb these. Ballroom Cave is reputed to have been used by miners as a venue for dances.
From here it is another 20-30 minutes to the dam. On a fine day your effort is rewarded on this section of the track with excellent views of the Wakamarama and Burnett ranges, Ruataniwha Inlet and north to Farewell Spit. Immediately prior to the dam is the dam outlet, a tunnel cut through the rock, terminating in an iron control gate. Please do not enter this tunnel.
Once at the reservoir, a good place to have a break or lunch is on the left as you follow the track around the water's edge, past the race intake control on top of Druggan's Dam. From the dam the track climbs around the side of the reservoir.
A further 20 minutes takes you to a junction in the track. After a few minutes' walk the track joins a 4WD (or mountain bike) track. turn right and follow it downhill back to the car park.
Alternatively, from the track junction you may take the short track, which links back to the first junction, and so retrace the first part of the track back to the car park.
This area is great for mountain biking. From the carpark, the 4WD road to Appos Flat makes an excellent ride. The round trip back to the carpark takes 3-4 hours. Good fitness and moderate technical skill are required. Please follow the mountain bikers' code at all times.
This is a shared-use track. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.
From Collingwood follow the Aorere Valley inland. After 7 kilometres, turn off the main road at Rockville where Aorere Goldfields and Devil's Boots are signposted. Follow the road and rough farm track past Devil's Boots for another 2 kilometres until you reach the Aorere Goldfields car park.
The Aorere Goldfields Track gives you access to explore some of the more accessible gold-mining remnants, including the Slate River Sluicing Company Dam ('Druggans Dam') and the Aorere Caves.
Boots and a degree of fitness are recommended. As there is little shade along the track, sun protection is also required.