Tiny Patearoa Hosts Hundreds
04 Mar 2020
For the tiny Maniototo settlement of Patearoa, Saturday, February 29, will surely make 2020 the Leap Year to be recorded in the annals of history as the day hundreds of people on horse and bike saddles, in covered wagons and on foot came to town.
The occasion of this welcome invasion was Patearoa being the host town and final destination for participants in the 28th Goldfields Cavalcade, an annual event that re-enacts the gold rush days of the 1860s when men and a smattering of hardy women headed to Central Otago to make their fortunes.
Under a Maniototo ‘Big Sky’, cavalcaders, townsfolk (permanent population is only around 60) and visitors from far and wide enjoyed an afternoon of food, music and market stalls.
What’s the bet more than just a few were surprised to find that as small as it is, Patearoa has a well maintained nine-hole golf course, bowling green and tennis court.
Nestled in the foothills of the Rock and Pillar Range alongside the once upon-a-time gold-bearing Sowburn Stream, Patearoa was literally a pop-up town predicted to disappear as soon as the gold fizzled out. So rather than establish a cemetery, Patearoa shared the one at Hamiltons, a much bigger gold rush town a few kilometres away.
To show fate can have a sense of humour, Hamiltons, which once had a population of 5000 and around 25 hotels, was the town that was short lived while Patearoa survived and thrived. Today the only evidence of Hamiltons is the cemetery which for the views alone is worth visiting.
In our books Patearoa is one of the many gems lying a short distance off the Otago Central Rail Trail. Numerous mudbrick cottages have been restored as holiday homes and there’s a picturesque walk along the Sowburn to the where Chinese mined for gold. As for fishing, Patearoa has the reputation as the fisherperson’s utopia. And all this just 12 km from the Rail Trail at Waipiata.
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