Kyeburn Diggings

Kyeburn Diggings

Kyeburn Diggings is towards the south end of Danseys Pass Road, about 16 km from Naseby, Central Otago. It is 600 metres above sea level and on the edge of the tussock lands of the Kakanui Mountains, within the Oteake Conservation Park.

The Pass is named for the Kye Burn, the stream running along the valley from Danseys Pass, combined with the diggings that resulted from the discovery of gold in 1861 by a prospector named Leggat.

By 1863, there was a rush to dig for gold around German Creek on either side of the stream back towards Naseby and on Mount Buster, about 12 km to the north. The miners quickly established a typical mining town with around 2,000 people, including 600 Chinese gold diggers at one stage.

As the gold ran out, coal was discovered and mined until 1900, providing some longevity to the town. Then, like most of these pop-up towns, it quickly disappeared once the mining was over. Today, there is not much obvious evidence of the town apart from the historic cemetery, the Danseys Pass Hotel, and many mature exotic trees planted by miners and early settlers.

The cemetery is on the left as Danseys Pass Road enters the Kakanui Mountains’ foothills alongside the Kye Burn. The cemetery is an interesting record of how tough it was for the early settlers. It’s all too easy to forget as we sip our lattes or pale ales at the hotel a bit further along the valley.

There are also signs of diggings on the Kye Burn and nearby German Creek. Note the decrepit bridge over the Kye Burn near the hotel. But the most extensive diggings were high on the side of Mount Buster at 1,200 metres, the highest gold mining activity in NZ.

These high diggings are part of the Oteake Conservation Park and can be accessed along Little Kyeburn Road. From there, follow the 4WD Mount Buster Road and then take a nine km hike up 560 metres to Buster Hut and the main diggings.

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