Menzies Dam

Bannockburn Sluicings Historic Reserve, Bannockburn

  • Menzies Dam.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • Menzies Dam.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 5611 Date Entered 10th April 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Lot 1 DP 26776 (CT OT18D/464), Otago Land District, and Menzies Dam thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting 30 April 2015

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 26776 (CT OT18D/464), Otago Land District

Location description

On Menzies Terrace, Stewart Town, Bannockburn district - access from Felton Road. Sited on private property (Mr and Mrs A. Beaton) but public access agreement negotiated by Lands and Survey Department.


Menzies Dam, built in the mid-1860s by David Stewart and John Menzies, is a large water storage reservoir located above the gold sluicings at Bannockburn (List Entry No. 5612). Menzies dam is a fine example of a substantial, hand built, water storage reservoir. The reservoir is one element within a complex of sites associated with the hydraulic sluicing of the alluvial terraces near Bannockburn.

David Stewart , a stone mason, and miner John Menzies built the dam in the mid-1860s, enabling them to sell water to local gold miners. Menzies Dam sits adjoining the settlement of Stewart Town (List Entry No. 5610) overlooks the spectacular sluicing faces of Pipe Clay Gully. The land on the south bank of the Kawarau River, stretching up to the Carrick Range, was subject to extensive mining, particularly hydraulic sluicing. Water and the rights to it were crucial to gold mining. Stewart and Menzies held substantial water rights and therefore controlled miners’ access to water. Stewart secured the water right from Long Gully, cut a race and built this dam. Access to water allowed previously unworkable areas to be mined.

Menzies died in 1894 and his house, race, claims and effects were sold. Stewart Town was occupied from about 1865 until the early twentieth century. Menzies and Stewart were in Bannockburn by the mid-1860s and there is a record of an application for a residence area in both their names in 1873. David Stewart died in 1883. William Roy mined with David Stewart and John Menzies from the 1870s. As mining declined, the land around Stewart Town and Menzies Dam became part of the landscape of small holdings and allotments characteristic of the subdivisions between Bannockburn and the Kawarau River.

Menzies Dam is a large water storage reservoir located on a flat spur and fed by a large water race. Approximately 2 hectares, it is earth-walled, with its inner surface stone-faced for protection from wave erosion. The shape is approximately square with walls on three sides – north, east and west. The inlet race feeds into the southern, slightly uphill side, where no wall is necessary. There are water races leading out from the north and east walls of the reservoir in the direction of nearby mine workings. The water was used for sluicing overburden away from the hillside to allow miners to get at the gold bearing gravels underneath. Related sites include the huts and remnants of the Stewart Town settlement, supply races, paved tailraces, forge sites, mine drives and the sluice workings.

The land on which Menzies Dam stands was included in the Bannockburn Sluicings Historic Reserve gazetted in 2000. In 2015, Menzies Dam remains part of the Bannockburn Sluicings Historic Reserve.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1866 - 1868

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

17th February 2015

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Bannockburn field survey, February 1982.

Otago Goldfields, n.d.

Otago Goldfields Park pamphlet

Stephenson, 2004

Janet Stephenson, Heather Bauchop and Peter Petchey, 'Bannockburn Heritage Landscape Study', Department of Conservation, Science and Research Unit, Wellington 2004

Other Information

Information in this report is from the citation prepared for the NZHPT Archaeology Committee at the time of the registration.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand