New Zealand is filled with such variety in landscape and history. For such a young country, it never ceases to amaze me that their are ruins from structures built in the past 150 years or so.
On my way to Queenstown, Te Araroa has taken me through the gold fields of Otago and brought me through the charming little village of Arrowtown. I’m so very glad I took the time to stay here and experience this piece of New Zealand history.
I began my day at the museum. Housed in the former bank building, this little museum offers quite a lot for visitors to take in. As my masters degree is in Public History, I think I hold a special place in my heart for small museums and the Lakes District Museum certainly did not disappoint.
After the museum, I wandered the streets, admiring the building storefronts and tried to imagine what it would have been like with men, horses, and mud covered lanes connecting the town. I found the Chinese Settlement section of town, which Te Araroa passed, fascinating.
When the gold rush of New Zealand happened, prospectors from all over the world descended upon New Zealand. One group in particular came seeking their fortunes. The Chinese prospectors settled just outside of town and their houses were unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
Some men built four walls and a roof, what we would consider a traditional cabin. But the scale of these cabins was extremely tiny. Some of them were barely 100 square feet, just enough space to sleep out of the elements and protect what few possessions they had from the elements. Other cabins were literally built into the side of the rocks. Using an overhanging boulder as part of their cabin structure, these houses had just two or three walls, depending on the shape of the surrounding rock face, and just a little bit of roof.
It’s always interesting to see how different cultures adapt their living conditions to the terrain. Perhaps it was the temporary nature of their structures that dictated their style. Perhaps using the surrounding rocks for walls and roof provided an economic advantage, lowering the cost of building such a large structure. Whatever the reason, their ingenuity was simply astounding.
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