Ophir Historic Area

Ophir

  • Ophir Historic Area. Plan of Historic Area from registration report..
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 27/10/1995.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7268 Date Entered 27th October 1995

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Extent of List Entry

The area comprises the Town of Ophir and surrounding land, contained in secs 117, 118 & 119, Blk 2, Tiger Hill Survey District.

City/District Council

Central Otago District

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 117, 118 & 119, Blk 2, Tiger Hill Survey District

Summaryopen/close

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. This report includes text from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

Gold was discovered at Ophir in 1863, on land grazed by Charles F. Black - hence the town's early name, Black diggings, later shortened to Blacks. In 1875, the growing town was officially declared as such and given the name Ophir, said to be after the biblical Ophir where the Queen of Sheba obtained her gold for King Solomon.

In the early years of the town when the population was around 1,000, Ophir is said to have competed with Clyde for the headquarters of the Vincent County Council, but lost out to the latter. Buildings such as the 1886 Post Office, the courthouse and former general store reflect the optimism that Ophir would continue to flourish long after the gold ran out, the small township did not experience this growth as a direct result of the Central Otago railway line by-passing Ophir on the other side of the Manuherikia River.

After the turn of the century, new development was concentrated closer to the railhead, 2krn away at Omakau. Ophir's remaining buildings, many of which have been more recently restored, provide a vital link between the early history of the town and the present day.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Classification report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical:

Ophir possesses considerable historical significance as a typical Central Otago gold mining township. Its stagnation, after being by-passed by the railway, has led to the preservation of several structures.

The Ophir historic area with its variety of architectural styles and striking Central Otago scenery has great aesthetic appeal. It is historically significant depicting life in a Central Otago mining township and holds considerable archaeological remains that demonstrate past mining techniques.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Classification report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural:

While the earliest buildings in the historic area could be classed as utilitarian, i.e. simple structures erected hastily to meet an immediate need, without much consideration for actual style, an interesting comparison can be made between these and the more permanent structures that followed the initial rush for gold and Ophir's official designation as a town. Building styles range from two-cell colonial cottages and one room mud or schist stone huts to high Victorian public buildings constructed of dressed and pointed stone.

Technological:

The area demonstrates the different mining methods used over a period of approximately seventy years.

Aesthetic:

The overall character of the Ophir historic area is still determined to a significant degree by its gold mining past (I863). This is essentially defined by the visually apparent archaeological remains of gold mining, e.g. shafts, adits, races and by the uniform single storey height and vernacular stone and mud brick construction of some of the historic buildings in the area Ophir is set between the stark Raggedy Range and the willow shaded Manuherikia River.

Archaeological:

The archaeological remains of nineteenth century gold mining at Ophir are extensive and consist of adits, shafts, stone races, darns and building remains. Several of the buildings in the area are over one hundred years old and may have archaeological significance.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Classification report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Cultural:

Over the last one hundred years the small Central Otago town has not changed significantly and still demonstrates the traditional gold fields way of life. The size and scale of the remaining miners' huts and cottages, and their construction, tell of a much humbler, harsher existence experienced in the past.

Social:

This area demonstrates three distinct eras; the early gold mining period, when the town was given official status (post 1875) and the period of decline which began after the coming of the Central Otago Railway on the other side of the Manuherikia River.

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Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Nomination Form

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern region office

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.

Historic Area Place Name

Cottage
Cottage and stone hut
Daniel O'Connell Bridge
Former Bakery
Former Bank of New South Wales
Former Blacks School Site
Former Catholic church & stone wall
Former cottage hospital and stone outbuildings
Former Policeman's House
Former shop
Jenkins' Cottage and Outbuildings
Kintail House
McTavish's hut
Ophir Courthouse (Former)
Ophir Post Office
Ophir Postmistresses House
Ophir War Memorial Hall
Pitches’ Store (Former)
St Andrew's Presbyterian Church (Former)
Stone races, dams cottage ruins, adits, shafts etc
Stone sided races under main street
The Bungalow