Roiroi hoki te koura – Panning for gold

On Saturday morning, we began our drive from Dunedin to Queenstown. We had a quick stop in Milton for a Subway and journeyed deeper into Central Otago. There were lots of clouds, hills, rock formations and sheep.

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Near Cromwell, we stopped to look at a hydro dam which had the capacity to supply power for Christchurch and Dunedin annually.

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Then we drove along the lake created by the dam for quite a while, admiring the wonderful blue water and occasional odd rock formation.

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Davey, with his eagle eyes for mining-related infrastructure, spotted the Goldfields Mining Centre from the road, so we stopped in for a look.

We did a portion of the tour self-guided where we wandered past some mining equipment and then a little cluster of huts called “Chinatown”.

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We then met up with a guide who gave us a bit of a lecture about the history of gold mining in the area, which was known as Gee’s Flat. She also showed us some actual gold!

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The highlight of the day, especially for Davey, was when the stamper battery was turned on by supplying water to it. It’s amazing how much power something can have just from a bit of water being up higher!

We also got to see some sluice guns, another example of the power of water being harnessed.

Our guide then gave us a demonstration of how to pan for gold and we were allowed to pan for as much gold as we wanted for the rest of the day.

It was really hard work and my hands were frozen by the end. However, Davey and I both did still have our lead indicators at the end of our panning which is supposed to indicate that we would still had our gold in our pan, if there was some, which is, I guess, a partial win…

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Davey was also very excited to see a hydro generator.

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After a little more of a drive, during which Davey let me play The Lord of the Rings soundtrack over the car stereo to increase the epic-ness of the journey, we arrived at the Hilton at Kawarau village, just outside of Queenstown, which was to be our home for the next 5 nights.

We were made very welcome at the Hilton. The majority of the staff have French accents (possibly Swiss?) and it’s almost like being in Europe. Our room was incredibly luxurious and had a lake view and a gas fireplace.

In the evening, we went to the onsite pub who were offering mulled cider as a winter special. It was warm and sweet and just a touch spicy – the closest to Butterbeer that a muggle can get.

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It was a great end to our hard day of “mining”.

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