Fish and Game Otago volunteers (from left) Ross Taylor,
John Dean and Sharon Milne excavate an old trout fish
hatchery pond at Opoho Creek, near Logan Park. Photo
A clean-up of Dunedin's historic brown trout hatchery
ponds near Opoho Creek has found the ''significant'' site to be
in good condition for its age.
The rock-lined ponds date from 1868 and were built by the
Otago Acclimatisation Society, the forerunner of the Otago
Fish and Game Council.
''These are the birthplace of where brown trout in New
Zealand were introduced,'' Fish and Game Otago chief
executive Niall Watson said.
They were rediscovered by Mountain Bike Otago club members in
2011, when they were building a new track up the Opoho Creek
New Zealand Historic Places Trust regional archaeologist Dr
Matthew Schmidt and a team of volunteers spent International
Archaeology Day on Saturday uncovering the ponds.
''They're now clearly visible.''
It was from eggs transported from Tasmania, and hatched in
the ponds, that the region's rivers, including the
internationally recognised brown trout fishery of the Mataura
River, were stocked with brown trout.
Dr Schmidt said the stone-lined ponds were in really good
condition for their age and illustrated an important part of
the city's social history.
''They tell a lot about Dunedin at that time, as the
acclimatisation societies were formed to provide food for the
common man. Back in England, you had to pay to sports-fish.''
The group had been able to remove the vegetation around the
ponds ''sensitively'' so the stone work remained in place.
The lower pond still held water.
''You can see all the features. It's very cool.''
Mr Watson said the council believed the future management of
the ponds was important and provided the public with an
opportunity to reflect on the city's colonial past.
''I'd have to say that brown trout were one of the more
successful introductions. When you look at this site,
consider the materials they had to work with and logistics of
transferring live trout eggs from Tasmania, it's a marvel
that they achieved what they did here.
That tenacity is what makes this such a special site,'' Mr
In a joint project with the mountain bike club, the Historic
Places Trust and Fish and Game, a small fence and an
interpretation panel would be installed, hopefully in time
for the Otago Acclimatisation Society 150th anniversary
celebrations next year.