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Heritage Hub: Skinner Road
Tuapeka Mouth,
Otago, NEW ZEALAND

Tuapeka Ferry: Ferry Road
Tuapeka Mouth,
Otago, NEW ZEALAND

The TUAPEKA MOUTH GOLDFIELD 

Gold was discovered along the Tuapeka River before Gabriel Reid’s great discoveries of 1861. Alexander Garvie and his reconnaissance party, during 1857-58, explored the Tuapeka River to its mouth. It was not long after the rush to Gabriel’s that claims began to be worked all along the Tuapeka River.

At the Tuapeka junction with the Clutha River a typical goldfield’s town soon sprang up. Initially known as Dalhousie, the township boasted the usual amenities including hotels, stores and sly-grog shanties. Tuapeka Mouth was the inland ‘terminus’ for the Clutha River steamer service which ceased in 1939.

Here are just a few of the references extracted by W J Cowan about this once-busy goldfield from the Tuapeka Time, Otago Daily Times, AJHR Mining Statements(M.S.), Otago Provincial Council Votes and Proceedings, and Lawrence Warden’s Court applications.

1867: 
August: Lewis and party erect a dam across the Tuapeka River, fourteen feet high, three miles above Tuapeka Mouth to work the claim at Hughes Flat.
Two Chinese, the first in the locality, are erecting a tent.
Tuapeka Mouth becoming an important goldfield.

1871: 
May: 80 miners are working at Tuapeka Mouth within a four mile radius.

1881:
March: Thompson Bros. of Port Chalmers are to begin dredging on the Clutha River starting at Tuapeka Mouth and moving upstream. May: Their twin screw steamer Ino sailed past Tuapeka Mouth enroute to the dredging field. June: The dredge Jane began dredging above Tuapeka Mouth.

1884: 
August: Ah Mee and others have been granted application for a dam and tail race at Tuapeka Mouth.

1893:
November: Floods in Tuapeka River carry away footbridge near Keenans’; George Reid’s dam in this river also carried away.
M.S.: The Tuapeka River is beginning to look like a deserted goldfield though some of the Chinese still make a living.

1906:
February: A.N. Wakefield, manager of the Tamaiti Goldmining Co., is making good progress with the dam construction on the Tuapeka River, up stream from Tuapeka Mouth.

1907: M.S.: The Tamaiti Goldmining Co. has adopted a new system:(described as "A revolution in Mining" *) a weir constructed on the crib principle has been placed across the Tuapeka River at a point about nine miles from Lawrence. The whole of the river’s normal flow is conveyed by a flume, 8 ft. x 5 ft., on to a James Leffel horizontal turbine developing 200 h.p. using 70 Government heads of water; i.e. 437 gallons per second. The power developed by the turbine is conveyed to a four-stage high duty pump. When the turbine is developing 180 h.p. it throws from six to six and a half cubic feet per second against a head of 150 ft. The machinery has been working for six months. The claim and power-house are lit by electricity. The four-pole Westinghouse dynamo is driven directly off the turbine. A dividend of one shilling per share was declared within three months of commencing sluicing operations. An application has been granted to the same company for another dam site lower down the river and a special claim has been applied for.

1914: April: The Tuapeka Mouth Sluicing Co. Ltd has been formed with a claim of 15 acres on the Tuapeka Mouth mining reserve having a capital of £900. The shareholders are W.R. Martin, Alex. Brown, Robertson Brown, Thomas McLeod, Alex. McLeod, Robert McLeod, Stanley McDonald, Leonard Valpy and David Reid. A start has been made on building the dam and a race.

1916: April: The T.M. Sluicing Co. has erected a pelton wheel and pump. £65.11.11 of gold has been won from two paddocks.

October: £128.11.10 of gold has been won from three paddocks

1928:
M.S.: The Tuapeka Mouth Sluicing Company [sic] is working an old river channel near the junction of the Tuapeka and Clutha Rivers. Water for sluicing is pumped from the Tuapeka River. The plant was formerly used by the Tamaiti Goldmining Co. and consists of a four-stage centrifugal pump driven by a turbine. Four heads of water are pumped to a height of 90 ft. for working the claim. 137 oz. of gold valued at £546 have been recovered.

1932:
M.S.: A and R Brown of Tuapeka Mouth have recovered 86 oz. of gold valued at £388

1939:

M.S.: The Tuapeka Mouth Goldmining Co.’s turbine has only operated for three months because of water shortage. Two men are employed.  Sluicing and gravel pumping at the 55 Co. mine (C. Taylor, manager) has continued during the year. This claim is  difficult to work because of the high percentage of heavy boulders encountered in opening-out paddocks. Suction gas engines power the Gwynne pressure pump and also generate electricity to power the Thompson gravel pump. Eight men are employed.

1941:M.S.: At the Tuapeka Sluicing Co. [sic] two men are employed. Operations ceased at the 55 Co’s operations during the year and the plant and equipment have been sold.

1956 on:
M.S.: No gold mining activity has been recorded at Tuapeka Mouth.

1965:
January:  The T.M. Gold Mining Co. has been struck off the Company register. The Company had sold off its remaining assets during 1964.

Notes compiled by W.J. Cowan, 2012    Visit Tuapeka Mouth Heritage Hub to find out more.

*Note: (For a very full description of the Tamaiti project see the Tuapeka Times on Papers Past for 10 October 1906, p. 3, col. 3).
"A Revolution in Mining"   https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/TT19061010.2.13