Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 24 July 2009 Contents LOCAL NEWS
24 July, 2009 | Page 7
In the late 1890s Preservation
Inlet, the most south westerly
place in New Zealand, was home to
more than 2500 gold miners and
sawmillers, and also the location
of one of the country’s remotest
Long since abandoned, there’s
still plenty of evidence of the
settlement, maintenance of
which falls to the Department
of Conservation’s Te Anau Area
staff who eagerly make an annual
heritage site maintenance trip.
For the past 20 years a DOC team
has explored this remote area –
one of mainland New Zealand’s
most remote locations – for old
gold miners’ tracks, tramways,
and roads. Tracks are checked
each year for definition, tramways
cleared of windfall and the old road
out to the lighthouse settlement
cleared of vegetation and all the
old drainage systems cleared and
cleaned. The walk from Otago
Retreat out to the lighthouse is one
of the most popular heritage walks
on the coast with almost every
visitor walking out to Pysegur Point.
Two historic buildings also
receive annual maintenance and
several gold crushing batteries
are visited for vegetation control
and monitoring. New Zealand’s
first Whaling Station site and one
of the most interesting smelter
complexes also has an annual tidy
this photo essay
of the team’s
most recent trip.
Managing heritage sites in some of
mainland’s most remote locations
Landing Shed Otago Retreat: This was the landing site for all the
equipment for the lighthouse from 1875 until the mid-1980s. This
is our operational base while working in the area.
dawn: This is the
on this site the first
built in 1879 was
burnt down in 1942
by an eccentric
gold miner from
Coal Island who got
annoyed with the
light keeping him
awake at night.
Te Anau Area ranger Sue Brownie,
oiling the sawmill boiler at
Cromarty: The second township site
in Preservation Inlet, this sawmill
exported timber to Invercargill, plus
supplied the rapid growth in this
area. There were also two other
sawmills in this area.
The old road out to the point: This road was
the bane in the life of the keepers as it took a
lot of time to maintain. In the early 1990s it was
completely grown over, since then DOC staff
have opened it up to original width and, after a
lot of hard work, have 70 percent of the original
drainage working again.
The Tramway: The team waking home after
a day’s work clearing vegetation from the
tramway. In the forground you can still make
out the wooden rails and more than 70 percent
of the totora sleepers are still in existence. The
tramway is just over six miles long and, after the
gold mine closed, was use for timber extraction.
Recladding the historic Te Oneroa
Shelter: This was built in the 1950s
to keep stores and mail dry from the
Amphibian flights to the Lighthouse
settlement. The keepers would come
along by boat to pick up their stores
and mail. This shelter is on the site of
the township of Te Oneroa and one
of the most successful quartz gold
The boiler at Tarawera Smelter: It had been
lying on its side since the site was abanded so
we decided to stand it up (as it is vertical boiler).
It was a great team effort to put in place lifting
gear and stay ropes to lift this boiler to the
upright position and keep it under control.
Still safe: Gold safe still on site at Alpha Battery.
Golden Site battery: The first quartz mine that started operation in
this area, it is in a river gorge and access is via a Government-built
tramway and very steep sled track to the site. Eighty percent of
the mining equipment is still on site. The trees around the battery
have been removed to allow more sunlight and air movement.
The battery is sprayed yearly to kill off any moss but no other
preservation work is carried out. It is “managed decay”.
Grave of a small child from the
lighthouse settlement: This would
be every parent’s nightmare, to lose
a child without being able to get
quick medical help. We look after this
grave and five others in the cemetery.
Another sad story is that of a woman
who was drowned on her return
journey to Coal Island after helping
deliver a baby at the lighthouse
settlement. We take great pleasure in
keeping this site spick and span.
The Alpha Quartz Gold Mine battery: This is one of the most
complete 1890s gold mining sites in NZs, all the equipment to run
this operation is still on site.
Tarawera Smelter Chimney: This
was built up a hillside to give greater
draught to the smelter. Major capital
was expended in this project for a
zero return, the first smelting was the
last! We have cleared all the regrowth
so that trees will not fall on this
brilliant piece of craftmanship.
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