The Clutha District is home to one of Otago’s most historic towns, Lawrence, with a number of key sites to discover on your next stay with us. 

Spend time soaking up the rich heritage, where Otago’s gold rush began. Take time to explore the Tuapeka Goldfields Museum and Visitor Centre, and learn the story of the first person to discover gold in Gabriel’s Gully.

For a true understanding of the region’s deep history, stop in at the Owaka Museum in The Catlins. If multi-million-year-old fossils are your thing, there’s a hidden geological gem at the Milburn Whale and Dolphin Fossils Lookout in Milton.

Clutha District Museums

Owaka Museum, The Catlins

Owaka Museum is a popular palace of memories, similar to walking through a 3D storybook. Tales of Maori settlements, shipwrecks and pioneer settlers is a true reflection of The Catlins' rich history. The museum is also known as “Wahi Kahuika: The Meeting Place – A Rest on Your Journey”. 

Phone: 03 415 8323


Tuapeka Goldfields Museum and Visitor Centre, Lawrence

Take time to visit the Tuapeka Goldfields Museum and Visitor Centre. This museum provides a great source of the discovery of gold by Gabriel Read in 1861 and fascinating displays depicting the lives of the early settlers to Tuapeka. Genealogy material and Miners' licence names available for researchers. 

Address: 17 Ross Place, Lawrence 9532
Phone: 03 485 9222


South Otago Museum, Balclutha

Just beyond the Balclutha Bridge this museum has extensive collections on display of domestic and industrial heritage reflecting 150 years of pioneer endeavor on the fertile plains and river deltas of South Otago.

Address: 1 Renfrew St, Balclutha 9230
Phone: 64 3 418 2382
Facebook Page:

Admission is free. Donations welcome.


West Otago Vintage Club, Tapanui West Otago

The museum has a diverse range of items including vintage tractors, a steam engine, and a display of many household goods and collection of historical information from the district from the West Otago area. Open weekends from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.

Heritage Sites


Otago's first gold-rush town was Lawrence.  During the height of the goldrush the town's population was around 11,500; which was double that of Dunedin at the time. Here are some of the key sites:


Coal was first mined in Kaitangata back in 1869, coal was then taken through to Dunedin by rail. In 1879 there was a significant explosion at the mine in which it killed 34 miners. The last underground coal mine closed in 1970.



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