The Central Otago landscape of tussock, schist and outcrops of rock can be found only 30km inland from the beach town of Waikouaiti. The hills up from Bucklands Crossing have the rounded Central Otago profile and are fretted by streams as elsewhere, but they are green.
It is at the old Nenthorn goldfield that they turn brown. Nenthorn’s ruins date back to 1888. Back then the town had a main street of calico, sod and iron structures including over 20 hotels, two banks, a public dance hall and skating rink, accountant, chemist, barber, banks, builder, butchers, watchmaker, fruiterers, boarding houses, blacksmith, stables and the Nenthorn Recorder newspaper.
It was reported by John Boyd, who was a waiter at ‚Laverty’s Pub‘, that he had never seen so much drunkenness and brawls and fights with boots, knives and bits of wood brought into play. He said that he had seen the pub manager standing on the bar with a stockwhip lashing men like a bullock team driver.
Today the greatest danger comes from old mineshafts, which make it dangerous to wander off the track in this isolated spot.
From Billy Flat you climb quickly to Billy’s Ridge, then across the meandering Taieri River to Middlemarch and habitation once more.
HOW TO GET THERE
Turn right off SH I about I km south of the Waikouaiti shopping centre and follow the sign to Bucklands Crossing.
H43 (Middlemarch), 143 (Waikouaiti)
E >W. Start at 143 273097
Narrow winding gravel road over hills.
Source: 4WD South Island Volume 1 (Ken Sibly & Mark Wilson)