The town of Cromwell had its beginnings in 1862 when the two miners, Horatio Hartley, an American, and Christopher Reilly, an Irishman, deposited in Dunedin eighty-seven pound weight of gold that they had recovered from a spot about a mile below the junction of the Kawarau and Clutha Rivers.
The strike earned the two men a reward of 2,000 pounds for the discovery of a new goldfield and it precipitated a gold rush that opened up a wild and inhospitable area of the South Island. Freezing cold in winter and mercilessly hot in summer, there were no roads or bridges, no timber or fuel.
The track through the Cromwell Gorge led through deep gullies and ravines and skirted precipitous cliffs but the miners came in their thousands. It was a rich field and the first gold dispatched to Dunedin under the escort of Sergeant-Major Bracken and three troopers was a highly satisfactory 6,031 ounces.
In its earliest days Cromwell was known as ‘The Junction’ and the earliest photographs of the period show it as a barren, treeless strip of ground bordered on two sides by the rivers. and at one stage there were reputed to be 3,000 miners under canvas or in makeshift rock shelters.
The personnel helping are volunteers and bring a wide range of attributes and a wealth of information to the museum.
The volunteers work in areas such as front of house, archiving, ehiving, packing and research.
If you have skills that you think would suit being a volunteer at the museum please contact us to make an application.
List of our trustees
Jim is a current member of the museum trust board with a strong interest in the heritage of the district and its preservation for future generations promoted through the displays and services offered by the museum to the public.
Joan and her family are involved in Aurum Wines, an organic vineyard and winery near Cromwell established nearly 20 years ago. Joan's background is in archaeology, and her speciality is in archaeological illustration. Her great love of gardening and history is reflected in the two journals she edited , 'Heritage Roses in New Zealand' and 'Archaeology in New Zealand'.
Martin was a founder trustee of the Museum and continues in this role. Martin was also President of the Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust and is a trustee of the Central Otago Heritage Trust. He has a strong interest in the whole heritage sector particularly the development of heritage strategies for the district.
Peter is mindful that the Museum as it stands today is a windfall bestowed during a period of major investment in
community assets at the time of hydro development. He is particularly interested that effective and appropriate
stewardship is applied in the operation and maintenance of the Museum. Peter has an extensive background in governance and financial management.
Wayman Roughan is one of the founder trustees of the Cromwell Museum. His forbears were some of the first settlers in Gabriel's Gully which has given him a keen interest in the heritage of the gold mining in Central Otago. He was Chairman of the 150th Celebrations of the discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully in 2011. Wayman has had a long association with local bodies focusing on the heritage and Community Development of the region.
Cromwell Museum Director
Cromwell Museum Director Jennifer Hay has a Masters Degree in Art History from the University of Canterbury and worked as a curator for the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu for ten years. While at the Christchurch Art Gallery she curated numerous exhibitions including ‘Bill Hammond: Jingle Jangle Morning’, Andrew Drummond: Observation/Action/Reflection’ and several emerging artists exhibitions. She lived in Adelaide for several years managing a commercial dealer gallery before returning to Central Otago in 2019.