Rail trail, sluicings recognised as landmarks

Celebrating the official recognition of the Bannockburn Sluicings  as a landmark are (from left)...
Celebrating the official recognition of the Bannockburn Sluicings as a landmark are (from left) Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan, Goldfields Heritage Trust chairman Martin Anderson, Heritage New Zealand Otago-Southland area manager Jonathan Howard and Department of Conservation Central Otago operations manager Mike Tubbs. Photo: Tom Kitchin
Two significant historical Otago sites that tell important stories about New Zealand’s past were recognised as  landmarks with small ceremonies on Saturday.

The Bannockburn Sluicings and the Otago Central Rail Trail were the first two sites in  Otago to have a ceremony.

The Landmarks Whenua Tohunga  programme celebrates some of New Zealand’s most prized cultural and historical sites.

It is a joint initiative between the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, the Department of Conservation (Doc) and Heritage New Zealand.

Doc Central Otago operations manager Mike Tubbs said the initiative aimed to increase and disperse tourism activity around the country.

"We’re hoping visitors will enjoy more memorable and meaningful experiences, and then share this with others."

The sluicings and rail trail are two of the three landmarks in  Central Otago.

There will be a ceremony to celebrate the third, Hayes Engineering in Oturehua, next weekend.

Each site will receive a special  landmark plaque.

The sluicings ceremony was held at the site in Bannockburn on Saturday morning.

Doc senior ranger Annette Grieve said the sluicings were a man-made landscape that featured remains of dams, tunnels, walls and water races that were built to flush out gold in the 19th century.

Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust president Martin Anderson, who helps promotes historic goldfields in the area, said he was proud to have the sluicings listed as a landmark.

"Central Otago keeps reinventing itself. It started with the pioneering spirit of the early days."

The rail trail ceremony was held at the Hyde Railway Station on Saturday afternoon.

Ms Grieve said the old railway the  rail trail followed provided Central Otago’s economy with lifeblood for isolated goldminers and pastoral farmers.

Otago Central Rail Trail Trust chairwoman Kate Wilson said recognition of the  rail trail as a  landmark would   help more tourism develop in the area.

Gathering with the landmark plaque for the Otago Central Rail Trail at Hyde Railway Station on...
Gathering with the landmark plaque for the Otago Central Rail Trail at Hyde Railway Station on Saturday are (from left) Department of Conservation Central Otago operations manager Mike Tubbs, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, Otago Central Rail Trail Trust chairwoman Kate Wilson and Heritage New Zealand Otago-Southland area manager Jonathan Howard. Photo: Claudia Babirat
"We can develop fringe products off to the side. It’s all about telling the stories as broadly as possible."

The  landmark plaques would be placed at each end of the  rail trail, at Clyde and Middlemarch, but not at Hyde.

Mrs Wilson said the ceremony was held at Hyde because it was close to the centre of the trail and on Saturday they were opening the ticket office at the old railway station to the public for the first time.

Heritage New Zealand Otago-Southland area manager Jonathan Howard said the initiative helped tell stories about New Zealand’s past.

"We’ve got great stories to tell on the ground. It’s about sharing some of the tenacity that  shaped [New Zealanders] so impressively."

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said the recognition of the landmark sites in Central Otago showcased "regional collaboration at its best".

"[The landmarks] are a welcome addition to the Central Otago tourism and heritage landscape. For Central Otago to get three out of the 12 [Otago] sites is significant."

The Landmarks programme was first introduced in the country in Northland two years ago.

Since the launch in 2016, Ms Grieve said there had been an increase in visitor numbers in Northland.

Otago is the second region in the country to have landmarks.There are nine other landmarks in Otago — the TSS Earnslaw, Arrowtown, Kawarau Suspension Bridge, Totara Estate, Historic Oamaru, Taieri Gorge Railway, Olveston, the Dunedin Railway Station and Larnach Castle.

Each landmark will receive a ceremony and plaque.The Otago landmarks were officially announced in December last year, at a launch in Dunedin.

tom.kitchin@odt.co.nz

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