Clutha Country

BC-bridgeAbout Clutha Country

Clutha Country’s heart is the river that flows from the inland mountains, through rolling green hills and native forests before it heads out to the Pacific Ocean.

The wildlife is extraordinary and the landscapes rugged. Visitors will love to get off the beaten track to visit this stunning area in the south. Discover the gold history of the gold rush in Lawrence and experience the natural wonders of The Catlins. Enjoy fly fishing, walking, cycling or jet boating - all off this on the door step of Dunedin International Airport. 

Clutha Country – “where everyone say hello”, and visitors say “I wish we could stay longer.”


Visit the nearby village of Lawrence and discover the rich history. During the gold rush and sawmilling eras the whole district rattled with the sound of diggers and wagon trains as trade routes were established through the plains and across the Clutha River. The discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully by Gabriel Read in May 1861 led to the Central Otago gold rush. While gold had been found in Otago before, this rush was beyond expectation, with the population of the gold field rising from almost nothing to around 11,500 within a year, twice that of Dunedin at the time. Lawrence is also the home of New Zealand’s national anthem, where local school teacher, John Woods, created the score to a Thomas Bracken poem to compose “God Defend New Zealand” in 1876. Clutha Gold Trail a new addition to Nga Haerenga - the New Zealand Cycle Trail. It starts from beautiful, historic Lawrence, travelling through lush green rolling farmland, into the stunning Beaumont Gorge. Here it follows the mighty Clutha Mata-au River through to Commissioner Flat just below the Roxburgh Hydro Dam. A link can be made, at the Roxburgh Dam end, to the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. This travels some 34km (including a river crossing by water taxi) into Alexandra where a connection can be made to the Otago Central Rail Trail.


Great fishing in Clutha Country

Having fun in Clutha Country

Clutha Country Links

Townships in Clutha Country

This township has a rich history in wool and timber mills, both of which are still productive industries in the town today. Another highlight is the Gothic-inspired Tokomairiro Presbyterian Church which opened in 1889.

The lakeside domain has many activities available including kayaking, fishing, a pontoon and water slides for children – making it a great place to relax and unwind.

Balclutha is the biggest town on the Southern Scenic Route between Dunedin and Invercargill. Enjoy the excellent range of friendly retail and food outlets, or try your hand at fishing or a round of golf. There is also a camping ground and a number of motels for a range of accommodation options. The Clutha River/Mata-Au Bridge spans the largest river (by water volume) in New Zealand.

Activities in Clutha Country

2 hr return

Access to this walk can be found at the back of Naish Park on Charlotte Street in Balclutha. You will follow the mighty Clutha River/Mata-Au and take in the fabulous array of flora and fauna, including an amazing display of rhododendrons. You are able to bike this track.

Open to visitors at any time, the Sod Cottage is 13 km north of Balclutha on SH1. It was built in the 1860s as a stop for miners heading to the goldfields. It has been restored by the South Otago Historical Society, and was reopened on the 30th of May 1970.

Visit the whale fossils at the lookout near Milburn Limeworks, 9km north of Milton. The lookout provides spectacular views of Lake Waihola. It also houses a display of rare whale and dolphin fossils that were found in the nearby lime quarries, and are 24–34 million years old, as well as a pictorial history of the lime and phosphate working in the area

These significant wetlands are a 315 hectare waterfowl reserve with numerous shallow peaty lagoons, a labyrinth of waterways, and two islands fringed with flax/harakeke, native bulrush/raupo and grasses. The wetlands, renowned for their abundance of kai (food) and Whakaraupuka (Ram Island), which is the former site of the pa (fortified village) of Tukiauau. The wetlands are located at 854 Clarendon/ Berwick Road, signposted off SH1.

45 min return

This track starts 400 m south of the bridge at Taieri Mouth, crossing a fence midway up the gully as it passes from the reserve into private land. The route leads up out of the gully and onto Finlayson Road.

4 hr return

The Taieri River Track (starting at Taieri Mouth), and the Millennium Track (starting from Taieri Ferry Road, off SH1), meet at picturesque John Bull Gully. Walking upstream from Taieri Mouth, saline and freshwater vegetation give way to open shrub land and stands of lush podocarp forest. Good footwear is essential.