Our History

Lawrence celebrated it's 150th anniversary in March 2011 and is famous for the first major Otago gold rush. In 1861, Gabriel Read discovered gold in what is now Gabriel's Gully and  by 1862 the population of Lawrence had increased to 11,472, or more than double that of the capital of the province, Dunedin. At the time there were some 6,000 hopeful miners camped in the valley.

An insight into this tumultuous era can be gained from the Lawrence Information Centre and Museum with its wealth of material documenting the families of the time and their history. The Historic Places Trust has identified fifty buildings and sites in Lawrence as historically significant, and, of these, twenty have historic explanatory panels.

Lawrence also had a major Chinese community and the physical remains illustrate the Chinese experience in Otago whereby some people were integrated while others remained outsiders. Not allowed to live in Lawrence, the Chinese set up a shantytown a kilometre out of town and not being permitted to bury their dead in the European cemetery they established their own graveyard.

If you are of an active disposition there are a number of walks that take you around various gold mining sites such as Gabriel's Gully, Otago, Greys and Cornishman's dams, ranging in time from an hour and a half to three hours. For those of a hardier bent there's the open tussock of the Lammerlaw Ranges to explore. In addition, there's fishing in Lake Mahinerangi, the Tuapeka and Waitahuna Rivers and the various dams, as well as golf at Wetherstone's Road. You could also try gold-panning as there is still gold to be found.

For relaxation Lawrence has a selection of cafes, restaurants and bars

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