Bullendale & Dynamo Hut tracks
Remains of a Bullendale cottage
Time: 2 - 3 hr one way, medium fitness Start/finish: Skippers Cemetery – please park your vehicle here.
This trail to the heart of Skippers’ quartz reef mining history includes numerous creek crossings up to the junction of Skippers Creek’s two branches. Take the old pack track above the right branch. The former Phoenix Mine is marked by an old rock breaker perched high on the riverbank, above the site of the massive 30-head stamper. Nearby, Murdochs Creek is littered with mining relics, and the remains of Bullendale’s cottages are scattered on the tussock flat above.
WARNING: heavy metals continue to leach from the old mine workings here – DO NOT drink water from Murdochs Creek.
Dynamo Hut Track
Time: 3 hr one way, medium fitness required Start/finish: Skippers Cemetery. Please park your vehicle here.
Traverse rugged Skippers Creek to see New Zealand’s first industrial hydro power scheme that was built in 1886 for the Bullendale battery 2.5 km away. Imagine going this way, lugging the two, solid steel, two-metre Pelton wheels and all the other equipment that the scheme used.
The track heads northeast from the cemetery to Skippers Creek, then sidles upstream to the hydro dam that was part of the Mount Aurum Homestead power scheme. Further on, the track switches to Skippers Creek’s branch on the true left branch and climbs the left bank to a terrace where the old, tin Dynamo Hut holds a wealth of stories. Behind the hut are restored power plant parts.
From Queenstown, travel along Gorge Road to Arthur’s Point and take the turn-off to Coronet Peak ski field. Off that road, turn left onto the unsealed road signposted to Skippers. From Skippers Saddle, continue on the narrow and winding 13 kilometre Gorge Road to Skippers Bridge and Mount Aurum Recreation Reserve. This is a one-and-a-half- to two-hour drive.
Only experienced drivers should attempt this journey. Because of its challenges, and precipitous drop-offs, this is not a road on which to learn gravel-driving techniques.
Dogs are allowed in Mt Aurum Recreation Reserve, but must be on a lead.