A town with less than 10 people is definitely worth a detour
Gold mining, the ghost towns, the settlements where once thousands lived are evocative places to visit with their relics and abandoned buildings. St Bathans delivers in spades on the historic artefacts plus it has a hotel that is continuing to operate worth drawing a beer or two. A highlight is the visually stunning crystal deep blue lake and the surrounding whitened cliffs.
WHAT TO DO, HIGHLIGHTS
- Have a drink in an historic hotel
- Wander among the heritage town
- Blue Lake walk
- Get your postcard stamped in the timbered kauri Post Office that opened in 1909 is still in operation.
- Publican for keeping the hotel doors open. It was threatened with closure previously.
- Rose, murdered hotel employee working room 1 at the Vulcan hotel. Rose can be heard, reportandly by male guests only, groaning, banging kettles and skipping up stairs.
WHERE TO TAKE A SELFIE
- Vulcan Hotel stone exterior
- St Bathans quarry lakeside with the extraordinary blue water
- St Albans the Martyr cute 19th century church
St Bathans is a living museum. The place encapsulates the narratives of nineteenth century gold fever and the struggles of gold prospectors. There are several heritage buildings from a post office, church and school. The town is tiny. One hour is sufficient. However you might linger near the school wondering about the ghosts of school teachers and what they thought living in an isolated community.
St. Alban the Martyr church is one of the first prefabricated buildings in New Zealand. St Bathans being sub-alpine lacks trees hence the use of corrugated iron.
Blue Lake is a stunning moon-like landscape deserving further exploration. The lake’s beginnings start with gold prospecting and miners sluicing and dredging for gold. The lake is effectively a drowned quarry. The sharp blue colour of the water contrasting with the striped white quartz tailings is spectacular creating a must go location for photographers. In summer the lakes shimmers blue, in winter dustings of snow create a contrast between the frigid waters and alpine landscape.
- Check out the hotel to find Rose
- Explore an emerald sharp blue lake
- Talk about what life would be like for school children ages ago (and that’s not last year)
WHO TURNED UP AND NAMED THE ST BATHANS
Pre-European Maori were familiar with the area as it was a passageway to the ponumena mines on the West Coast. St Bathans was initially called Dunstan Creek, the town underwent a name change when government official John Turnbull Thomson surveying the fledgling settlement named the place after the Scottish parish of Abbey St Bathans. In the 1860’s the town’s inhabitants were over 2000. The gold stampede started in May 1861 with an gold find in Gabriel’s Gully several thousand miners in a matter of months.
WHAT TO STAY OVERNIGHT
- Check the hotel or The St Bathans Police Camp (1864) is now marketed as the St Bathans Jail & Constable’s Cottage, with three bedrooms.
- Less than eight
- Sub-alpine, warm hot summers and below freezing winters
- A gem worth the detour (allow up to a day getting there and back) Ranfurly is the closest town)
Unique journeys, personal adventures.