Palmerston Gateway to Gold Heritage Trails

Sir John McKenzie Trail

Palmerston, which was named after the British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, lies half way between Dunedin and Oamaru on State Highway 1. The settlement came into being in 1862 as a stopping-off place for prospectors heading into Central Otago during the gold rush.

In the late 1880s and 1890s gold was dredged from the nearby Shag River. There were four gold dredges working in the river at one time: in 1899 one dredge yielded 638 ounces of gold. One relic of the local gold working is the footbridge in Centennial Park, whose steel substructure came from one of the Shag River Gold dredges.

The most historically interesting buildings are Appleby’s general store and the Athenaeum. Appleby’s, established in 1898 as a cycle and fancy goods business, is still run by the grandsons of the original founder. The present building dates from 1914, the first shop having been burned down. The original Athenaeum, built in the 1870s, occupied a site opposite the Railway station. The present building, which carries the date 1872, was in fact built around 1930.

Palmerston also possesses two impressive War Memorials, the Boer War Memorial and the Great War Memorial, which pays tribute to those who died in both World Wars.

A Lookout provides some spectacular views over Palmerston ad the surrounding district, and there is also the challenge of climbing to the Puketapu cairn on the hill across the river. This is a memorial to Sir John McKenzie, who was the local Member of Parliament for twenty years from 1881 and became Minister of Lands and Agriculture.

This trail is one of the series Heritage Trails.

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