THE 'Mighty Clutha' forms the heart of one of the world’s most unique waterways. It traverses the dramatic semi-desert landscape of Central Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand, but the most spectacular river gorges, and much more, have been destroyed ... by dams. This is the unofficial story of the Clutha Mata-Au River and its stolen treasures. It is a story steeped in bitterness, shame, destruction, and sadness.

Cromwell Junction ~ Views

Cromwell Junction 1856, by John Buchanan 1856, by John Buchanan

Cromwell Junction 1863, by John Buchanan1863, by John Buchanan

Cromwell Junction 1866, New 'Lattice Bridge'circa 1866, New 'Lattice Bridge'

Cromwell Junction 1873-80, by Herbert Deveril1873-80, by Herbert Deveril

Cromwell Junction 1926, by Albert Percy Godber1926, by Albert Percy Godber

Cromwell Junction circa 1940's Postcard circa 1940s' Postcard

Cromwell Junction circa 1940's Postcard circa 1940s' Postcard

1948 Centennial Stamp1948 Centennial Stamp

Cromwell Junction circa 1980'scirca 1970s

circa mid-1980s

Cromwell Junction circa 1970'scirca mid-1980s, by R.W. Kilgour

Cromwell Junction circa 1980's, Aerial Viewcirca mid-1980s, Aerial View


About This Site

Cromwell before the Clyde dam was set to become a tourism icon. Blessed with a dramatic location, numerous historic buildings and a spectacular bridge overlooking the famous Cromwell Gap, its potential was obvious, until ... "think big."

The Roxburgh Gorge, too, with its many amazing rapids ~ the largest whitewater in New Zealand, had vast tourism potential, offering Alexandra and Roxburgh a booming industry focused on high volume whitewater kayaking, rafting and dory adventures unlike anything else in New Zealand.

The Clutha Mata-Au, before the Roxburgh and Clyde dams, possessed many natural treasures in the form of extraordinary river features and rapids.

This website tells the story of those stolen treasures, and records the bitter fight of ordinary New Zealanders pitted against arrogant government technocrats and politicians who considered the Clutha River ripe for exploitation at any cost.

Finally, the rising waters behind the Clyde dam submerged the historic main street of old Cromwell, the Cromwell Gorge including the famous Cromwell Junction, the Lower Kawarau Gorge including Sargood's Rapid (rated the best whitewater rapid in the world), the Cromwell Gap Rapid, the Lowburn area, and numerous orchards and homes. A total of 2300 hectares of productive land disappeared.

This website is a tribute to the Mighty Clutha, and to the many dedicated people who have fought, over decades, to protect its natural treasures.

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