A visit to St Bathans is a highlight of a scenic drive through the Central Otago region. From Alexandra, follow State Highway 85 which heads northeast through the Manuherikia Valley. At Becks, turn onto St Bathans Loop Road and follow it to the small hamlet and lake, surround to the north and west by mountain ranges.
St Bathans is known for the stunning Blue Lake and the Vulcan Hotel which has survived from that period. The Lake was dug out by goldminers from the 1860s all the way through to 1934. A hydraulic elevator was used. This machine is like a large vacuum cleaner that sucks water and gravel up for processing. While enjoying the lake, including the track around the top, consider that it started out as a 130 metre high hill!
Apparently, the hotel has its own ghost, Rosie a purported sex worker from the 1860s. At the time, St Bathans had 13 pubs and about 2,000 miners. It was often the service providers who made the most money from early gold mining!
On this part of the road trip, you will also get great views of the St Bathans and Hawkdun Ranges, which are higher than other surrounding mountains and generally have good snow cover in winter.