Gabriels Gully

Gabriels Gully

Gabriels Gully was named for Gabriel Read who reportedly saw easily recoverable alluvial “gold shining like the stars in Orion on a dark frosty night” in what was a gully. The flat area below the surrounding hills is now 50 metres higher than it was, with the gully filled in as the area was turned over. In 1861, this was the first major gold discovery in NZ, the others being in Westland and the Coromandel. It is often forgotten how dramatic these discoveries were – it took 20 years for the post-Treaty of Waitangi European population to get to 60,000 but by 1880, it was 470,000.

⁠The area around Gabriels Gully is now a reserve. There is a loop track above the edge of the diggings, as well as a couple of other nearby tracks that explore the water races and dams that supported the mining activity.

To get to the reserve, take the short drive on Gabriels Gully Road from Lawrence. On the return trip, continue on and then loop back on Blue Spur Road. This rises above the valley and passes through Blue Spur. Once a small town, this is historically interesting with excellent views.

Also keep an eye out for the collection of mining artefacts at the start of Gabriels Gully Road and the Gabriel Read Memorial. One man’s discovery really did have an outsized impact on NZ, but if it wasn’t him, it would have been someone else!

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