St Bathans

The former gold and coal mining town of St Bathans,  lies deep in the heart of the Maniototo. In 1887 St Bathans was a bustling town with around 2,000 miners. Mining has long ceased, and it’s now a tranquil holiday retreat. Some of the buildings from the gold mining era remain today and little else has been added, so it’s easy to imagine the town as it was during the gold rush. 

Prominent features include the historic Vulcan Hotel (thought to have a resident ghost),  the two storey kauri Post Office, opened in 1909 and other historic buildings including the mud brick church, remains of the stone school and the Blue Lake.

Close to the town, the Blue Lake was created by extensive mining activity. Beginning in 1864, miners chipped and sluiced their way through the quartz rock of the 120 metre high Kildare Hill. By 1933 the hill had become a 168 metre deep pit. From the 1880s the miners used hydraulic lift technology, like a giant vacuum cleaner, to suck water and gravel out of the pit to where it could be worked for gold.

Mining was halted in 1934 because the sides of the pit were getting too close to the town. The huge hole was allowed to fill with water to create today’s beautiful lake surrounded by columns of white quartz tailings.

It’s a very interesting, easy walk around the streets and buildings.  There is also a 2km loop track around the lake, an easy track and a great opportunity take in the views. You will also see old sluicing and the remnants of the gold mining equipment and machinery that literally converted Kildare Hill into a lake.

Getting there:

Turn off SH85 between Alexandra and Ranfurly to St Bathans. 

 

The remains of the school house

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