Lake Roxburgh Dam — Lawrence (2 days, 73km)
The two-day Clutha Gold Trail, from Lake Roxburgh Dam to Lawrence, offers a unique heritage experience and beautiful scenery.
Officially opened in October 2013, the Clutha Gold Trail showcases the area’s history of early Maori moa hunters, Chinese gold miners, European pastoral farming, mining and railways.
The trail follows the mighty Clutha Mata-au River as it weaves through trees and traverses the beautiful Beaumont Gorge. It then branches off into farming valleys and some sections of the historic Roxburgh Branch railway line, including the 440m-long Big Hill Tunnel.
Dotted along the trail are four small towns that were established during the gold rushes. Each has its own story and are now welcoming places to stop for a meal or overnight.
The trail forms part of an extensive network of Great Rides in the Otago region, linking with the Roxburgh Gorge Trail at the Lake Roxburgh Dam, on to the famous Otago Central Rail Trail at Alexandra.
LAWRENCE: GATEWAY TO THE GOLDFIELDS
Lawrence was Otago’s first gold-rush town after Gabriel Read discovered gold, in what became known as Gabriel’s Gully, in May 1861. At the height of the gold fever, Lawrence’s population reached 11,500, twice that of Dunedin’s.
Lawrence is an ideal place to stretch your legs and grab a coffee or have lunch. There is free internet access and a free international phone service at the information centre.
A range of accommodation is available, so spend some time here and get a feel for the town’s history and its role in kickstarting this country’s economy.
MILLERS FLAT’S LONELY GRAVES
Learn the story, see the anonymous grave near Millers Flat. Probably that of an 1860s miner, the headboard was provided by local man William Rigney who etched the words “Somebody’s darling lies buried here.” A new headstone, with the same words, was placed in 1903. Rigney died in 1912 and was buried next to the ‘lonely grave’. His gravestone reads ‘The man who buried “Somebody’s Darling”‘.
RIDING THE TRAIL
The 73km, Grade 2 (Easy) Clutha Gold Trail provides a great opportunity for day trips or a multi-day cycling holiday when combined with the Roxburgh Gorge Trail and even possibly the Otago Central Rail Trail.
COMMISSIONERS FLAT (LAKE ROXBURGH DAM) TO ROXBURGH, (GRADE 2 EASY) 10KM
The trail starts at Commissioners Flat, a small car parking area 500m below the Lake Roxburgh Dam on the eastern side of the Clutha Mata-au River.
From the car park, follow obvious signs down the valley on a smooth wide trail that leads to the Roxburgh township. There are kilometre marker posts on the trail to inform you of your progress.
After 10km you will see Roxburgh township on the other side of the river where you will find plenty of shops and accommodation.
ROXBURGH TO MILLERS FLAT, (GRADE 2 EASY) 21KM
From the Roxburgh township the trail continues for approximately 19km. It follows the river past a popular swimming spot called Pinders Pond and eventually heads inland to reach Millers Flat.
This small town offers a few accommodation places, a Four Square store and the Bridge Hotel across the river offering food, drinks and accommodation.
MILLERS FLAT TO BEAUMONT, (GRADE 2 EASY) 20KM
From Millers Flat the trail heads through a small park and back to the riverside. It is 24km down the valley on a mix of new trail, historic road and historic railway line to the settlement of Beaumont.
As soon as you reach the highway you will see Beaumont Hotel on the other side of the river. Food, drinks and accommodation are offered at the hotel.
BEAUMONT TO LAWRENCE, (GRADE 2 EASY) 22KM
This section has a moderate climb leading to a railway tunnel, followed by a long downhill to Evans Flat and Lawrence, the site of one of the world’s largest gold rushes.
The Clutha Gold Trail is located in the Central Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island.
The nearest airports are Dunedin International Airport and Queenstown International Airport, which offer flights to and from Australia, as well as main centres around New Zealand.
Distances (and estimated driving times):
Dunedin to Lawrence – 92 km (1 hr 15 mins)
Queenstown to Roxburgh – 135 km (1 hr 30 mins)
Bus services are also available.
PLEASE NOTE: An annual maintenance contribution of $25 per person, or $50 per family, covers the cost of trail maintenance for use of the Clutha Gold Trail and the adjoining Roxburgh Gorge Trail. A 1-Day Pass is available for $10 per person, or a life pass for $500. Contribute at the i-SITE at Lawrence, Roxburgh, Alexandra, Cromwell or Ranfurly.
MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Coverage is limited along the trail from Millers Flat to Lawrence.
DRINKING WATER: There are plenty of villages along the trail where you can buy water, but take plenty with you for the next section.
The Southern part of Central Otago through to Lawrence region is a year round destination for mountain bikers. Every season offers a different experience. This region enjoys a continental climate of temperature extremes.
There are four distinct seasons in Central Otago. In late spring the hillsides are lush and in late summer and autumn the celebrated colours of Central Otago are on full display. Winters are cold, still and dry and temperatures range from -6 to 15 deg C.