Funding news expected

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is expected to make an announcement about funding to assist with the restoration of the historic Arrowtown Gaol today as part of a visit to the resort.

The jail was built in 1876 for 500 and was used by police until 1987. Its last prisoners were two ''bogans'' from Invercargill who were arrested on New Year's Eve that year.

The plastered schist building, containing five cells, has rising damp, cracked plaster, rotting timbers and inadequate drainage.

Lakes District Museum director David Clarke said an earthquake engineering report and a conservation plan, which outlined the work required to protect the building for future generations, had been completed.

''They basically have to strip the whole thing out, in terms of plaster, because it's drummy.

''Even though it looks reasonably sound, the last time it had something done to it was 1976.''

The specialist work would probably cost about $180,000 and it was planned to use seismic plaster to assist with earthquake-proofing.

Mr Clarke said there were no plans to install electricity in the building but it was possible a solar panel would be installed to add to the visitor experience.

The minister will visit the site this afternoon and will be greeted by members of the Wakatipu Heritage Trust and the Queenstown Lakes District Historical Society, Lakes District Museum board members, Queenstown Lakes district councillors and other supporters.