Clutha Gold Trail

OverviewTrail Status: Open

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”‘.

Be Prepared

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.

Weather Info

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.

Trail Partner

Rod Peirce
The Clutha Gold Trail could become a trail of national significance with two thirds of the journey following the Clutha Mata-au river. The glacial blue of the river contrasting with Lawrence's rich green farmland is remarkable. ROD PEIRCE – Chair, Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust