Lawrence/TuapekaOn a late autumn evening in 1861, a lone Australian prospector by the name of Gabriel Read dug a hole in the gravel banks of the Tuapeka River and found "gold shining like the stars of Orion on a dark, frosty night". The early gold mining town of Lawrence is just a short, 92 km south-west journey from Dunedin. Nestled in the valley formed by the junction of the Tuapeka and Weatherstons streams, Lawrence was originally known as “The Junction”.
At this time hard-working Chinese immigrants came to the Goldfields. Shunned by the European miners, forced to live on the edge of town and burdened with huge discriminatory taxes, they nevertheless arrived in large numbers. They reworked the areas previously mined, plus the more remote and less accessible sites.
The Lawrence Chinese Camp, the earliest and most important Chinese heritage site in New Zealand, is undergoing a detailed archaeological survey in order to commence the planned authentic re-creation of the village.
Today, Lawrence is a peaceful farming centre and picturesque tourist stopover with its beautiful trees, walking tracks, gold diggings and museum. Gabriel's Gully (follow the signposts from Lawrence) contains Blue Spur, the scene of New Zealand's first hydraulic elevator. Lawrence is a great place to stop for coffee, lunch or ice-cream, or just to stretch your legs. There is a choice of fine cafes, restaurants and a hotel catering to a variety of tastes.
For more information on Lawrence go to www.lawrence.co.nz