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As gold fever swept through Otago in the early 1860s, prospectors fanned out, clawing their way up every creek and gully in search of a flash in the pan. In 1862, alluvial gold was found at Twelve Mile, sparking the rush to what later became known as Macetown, now a ghost town and a popular destination for mountain bikers, horse trekkers and trampers.

Macetown’s story is one of boom and bust. At its peak, it boasted a couple of hotels, a post office and a school, but when the gold ran out, it couldn’t fall back on farming in the way that Arrowtown and Queenstown did and, like Skippers, it died. All that remains of the town are a couple of stone buildings – the restored schoolmaster’s house and the bakery – and a smattering of wooden shacks. The surrounding creeks and gullies are littered with the twisted and rusting remains of gold batteries, making a fruitful hunting ground for industrial archeology fans

On first acquaintance, it isn’t massively exciting, but the grassy plateau makes a great camping spot. Indeed, arriving for a couple of days with a tent and provisions is the best way to experience Macetown’s unique atmosphere.

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