Historic causeway re-interred under Wall Street Mall

After years of work, Dunedin’s historic ‘Corduroy Causeway’ is now open for viewing. 

Corduroy causeway, Dunedin
At the unveiling of the causeway in Wall Street Mall, Dunedin.
Credit: Sarah Gallagherexpand/collapse

The early town of Dunedin was a muddy place as bush was removed for dwellings, and logs were hauled into the settlement for new building material.  A simple solution to enable movement of heavy loads through the worst quagmires was to build a "causeway" over the mud. This entailed building up the road with a track of tree branches laid close together, over railings of branches, creating a platform. This is exactly what settlers in Dunedin did - a simple but cheap solution to the problem.

In 2008 it came as a surprise for an archaeological crew working on the Wall Street Mall site as part of the building process, to uncover the remains of one of these causeways still largely intact. The causeway was photographed, measured and mapped, each piece removed, carefully dried, treated, catalogued and stored.  Causeways like this are not new historically and have been found in very ancient contexts around the world. The Dunedin causeway dated from some time in the 1850’s.

This restored Corduroy Causeway can now be "walked over” again, but with little chance of mud flicking up your trouser legs. After treatment, the structure was re-pieced together and re-interred where it was found – under the Wall Street Mall. It has been covered with toughened glass and has lighting installed enabling you to see in detail what the causeway looked like. It has been registered as a Category 1 historic place - see https://www.heritage.org.nz/the-list/details/9232

For more on this story go to https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/cause-celebration and https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/corduroy-causeway-being-reinstalled-city-shopping-mall

- Jan Titus