Central Otago District

Out in the Styx

One of the most beautiful ghost towns I have ever seen, Styx was surrounded on 3 sides by rivers and the forth by a cliff face. It has a number of old buildings still standing, The Styx jail, one of the original two Styx hotels (They had one on each side of the river in case of flooding), and the Styx Stables. There is a cool old waterwheel they have outside one of the buildings. Now I'm not sure if any of this is private property or public land. It's very hard to tell on a map. If any body knows the answer to this, let me know.


From Ranfurly, Take the Ranfurly-Patearoa Rd till it ends in Patearoa. Then take the Patearoa-Paerau Rd keep going, it will change into the Styx-Patearoa Rd. When this gets to the bottom of the Dunstan Trail, park up some where. From here you can see the old buildings down in the valley on the Eastern side of the road. Good luck getting across the river without getting your feet wet.

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Out in the Styx

I usually jot down a slice of my life right here, but for you lucky readers today, I'm hunting down the stories behind this old ghost town. For starters the name Paerau in Maori means "one hundred ridges". Which is fair enough, it's pretty wild terrain out here. When the Otago Gold rush was in full effect, Paerau was called "The Styx", after the river that weaved though it. Now this is where it gets interesting. The river was named after the "River Styx" which is a river that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld.

The town of Styx came about as a stopover on the Old Dunstan Trail. From Dunedin it was the second stopover on the way to the goldfields. The first was Clark's Junction. In keeping with the theme of Styx, the hotel had a coin embedded in the bar, alluding to the coin required for the ferryman across the river to the underworld. Information on this place is hard to come by, but over and over again I read that the chains (that are still in the jail) were used to lock up gold more than the gold robbers. I would say that is probably true after reading all the old news papers, not to much robbery happened around here.

If you have any info on this place, send it my way - Stu