At Cromwell’s longest-running tourism business, the lure of finding gold, going jetboating, horse riding, and enjoying fabulous food provides a winning combination.
The rugged goldmining site in the Kawarau Gorge has drawn people in, across its narrow footbridge, for 28 years.
Local guides entertain with gold mining stories from the not-to-distant past and couples can helicopter in to be married at Goldfield’s elegant wedding venue - beautiful rustic stables.
Heather Egerton still enjoys going to work at her unique Central Otago business.
“There was nothing here when we began 28 years ago, no buildings or anything. Now we have people fly in by helicopter.”
She said international tourists and Kiwis enjoyed the guided tours through the Goldfields every day.
“As well there are interesting walks through Chinatown past the old shafts, tunnels and tailings which are included in the experience.”
Guide Geoff Hewson said mining took place at the site from the early 1860s right up until 1969 and visitors still find gold today.
The first diggings followed the great Otago 1860’s gold rush with the Chinese arriving later. The small patch of hillside at Goldfields, which was known as Gee’s Flat, was home to about 100 miners.
“There were 32 hotels in the Cromwell area at the peak and thousands of miners. And we are still finding gold just down the road here.”
Geoff says visitors often got a bit of colour in their pan.
“We had 30 school students here recently, 29 of them got absolutely nothing and one found a good nugget so you never know.”
Trek the Goldfields on Horseback
Five rather fortunate standardbred horses are the star attraction of Goldfield’s newest business.
The Mining Centre is now home for the ex-trotters and pacers, whose job is carrying tourists through the DOC reserve.
Standardbreds were well suited to trekking due to their gentle nature and reliability, she said.
“They sometimes retire them from racing at only 5 years old. It’s nice to be able to give them a good home, they have a pretty great life here. We can put beginners on them because they are so chilled.”
Karolin moved to Cromwell two years ago from Germany and is enjoying sharing the area’s goldmining history with visitors.
“People experience the landscape very differently by horseback, it’s quite a special thing for many visitors that might not have ever ridden.”