History of Whites Hut
IntroductionWhites Hut sits in the middle of a once active gold mining site. Built beside the old road, together with the surrounding tussock slopes, this was part of the White's Reef Gold Mining Company’s claim secured in 1883.
The structures associated with these gold workings are still seen in the landscape: dams, tail races, stamper battery site, dray track, tailings, mine shafts. There are also the remains of two other huts below Whites Hut – one of which may have been a mining office.
Gold is found
It was James White, in the early 1880s, who found a band of gold-bearing quartz while alluvial mining in this area. In 1883 James White, George White and Andrew Mitchell formed White's Reef Gold Mining Company to claim and work the quartz reef. Sixteen other leases were also granted.
A water race was constructed to bring water from Gorge Creek to White’s Reef some 6 miles in length. A dray track below the present-day road was constructed to service White's Reef. A five head stamper battery driven by a turbine water wheel was erected in 1886 to crush the quartz to extract the gold.
Various companies were formed to work the three main quartz reefs in this area: White's, Exhibition, and Gray’s. Gray’s Reef lay alongside White's Reef and had the highest yield of gold in the district. In 1888 the White's Reef claim was passed on to Robert and Henry Symes. White's Reef was worked through till the 1920s.
The White and Mitchell brothers
Following their cousins, James and George White, Andrew and John Mitchell were Shetland Islanders who arrived in New Zealand in the 1860s. Andrew Mitchell found a gold-bearing quartz reef in the mid 1870s near Bald Hill and asked his cousin James White to work the reef with him.
Whites Hut was built by the skilled mason Andrew Mitchell in a similar style to the more elaborate Mitchells Cottage which he also built, situated 5 km further down Symes Road.
The Fruitlands district is located on SH 8, 27 km north of Roxburgh and 13 km south of Alexandra. Turn off the highway into Symes Road and travel a kilometre to the Mitchells Cottage Historic Reserve carpark on the right. Continue for a further 5 km up the rough gravel road.
Whites Hut can be seen on your left from the road. Park on the side of Symes Road and walk approximately 100 m downhill on an old road to Whites Hut.
All historic artefacts are protected. Do not disturb any stones or the ground and do not take anything away.
Take care as there are mine shafts in this area.