Golden Progress Mine

Central Otago District

Golden Progress Mine

This mine happens to be one of the biggest mines in the Ida valley and also has the only standing Poppet head in Central Otago.
-- poppet-head (noun British) : the frame at the top of a mineshaft, supporting pulleys for the ropes used in hoisting.
This is a really fun mine to explore as there is a horizontal shaft you can walk into, it's only a short distance, but gives you a feel for the hand rock mining days of the 1860's through 1930's.


It is located off the Otago Central rail trail in the Ida valley just out of Oturehua (a personal favorite town of mine), by car you want to drive down Reef road and park at the signs for the mine. Head along the short walk on the well marked track, note the sign that says to watch your children as there are open shafts around. On the track you will find some tailings, a small stone hut, and an old wooden hut.

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Golden Progress Mine

Over the years I've spent lots of days in the Ida valley, but have never really had the best luck at getting to this mine. I finally convinced a few folks for the 2 km bike/trek from the house we were spending new years in. Also my 3 year old on his balance bike and my 1 year old in a pull trailer attached to my wifes bike. We set off on our adventure. It was hot, and some of us were drinking. But it was a pleasant ride to the trail head. We ditched the bikes (quite literally), and jumped the fence.

The trail up was quite a nice stroll though old poplar groves where a bar used to be back in the gold days, no sign of it now. We passed a sign that read to keep the children close as there are still open shafts around. Noted, I will be looking for these. Directly passed that was an old stone/sod hut for a past miner and an old wooden hut, that was falling to bits. Lots of other mine related equipment around, including a lignite-fired boiler that used to run the battery that has been removed. Further up the trail passing the old tailings we could see the last remaining Poppet head in the Otago Goldfields. This is a really spectacular sight, well worth the visit. It was erected in 1928 out of Australian hardwood, beside that stands two more boilers that ran the motors to pull the elevator to the surface. I found three shafts on this short trip, two vertical that have been guarded off with metal bars, you can still see down them. And one horizontal shaft that you can walk right into. This was incredibly fun for the little ones. It didn't go very far in and seemed safe as the day they dug it.

Watch this space for more adventures in these hills to come. - Stu