St Bathans, 60 km north of Alexandra in central Otago, is a wonderful place for photographers. You’ll find images in many of the coffee table books on New Zealand. It’s at its best at dawn, for example:
But it doesn’t look too bad close to sunset either:
It has a remarkable history. This beautiful lake was once the 120 metre high Kildare Hill. In 1864 miners began working the quartz rock in search of gold and 70 years later the Hill had become a pit almost 170 m deep. Giant sluices were used together with hydraulic lifts to recover the gold. By the late 1800s the town had a population of several thousand. When mining stopped around 1930 the hole filled up with water, creating the present lake.
The Post Office was built in 1909 and is still in operation.
We stayed at the iconic Vulcan hotel enjoying a meal in the lovely warm dining room, shared with an old black labrador dog. The hotel is meant to be haunted but we slept very well. The old jailhouse nearby has been converted into tourist accommodation, see here.