Lawrence is situated 92km south-west of Dunedin on State Highway 8, nestled in the rolling hills of the Clutha region.
During the gold rush and sawmilling eras the whole district rattled with the sound of diggers and wagon trains as trade routes were established through the plains and across the Clutha River. The discovery of gold at Gabriel's Gully near Lawrence by Gabriel Read in May 1861 led to the Central Otago gold rush. While gold had been found in Otago before, this rush was beyond expectation, with the population of the gold field rising from almost nothing to around 11,500 within a year, twice that of Dunedin at the time.
The Clutha Gold Trail starts from the historic township of Lawrence and stretches 73 km to Lake Roxburgh. The first 5 km follows the now disused railway line through farmlands and on through the old Big Hill rail tunnel (440m) to Beaumont. Experience diverse landscapes, distinct seasons, contrasting colours and genuinely friendly communities.
Lawrence is a charming small town of 435 inhabitants (as per the 2006 census) in Clutha, in New Zealand's South Island which witnessed one of the world’s largest and fastest gold rushes. It's the perfect place to stop and soak up the Victorian and gold rush heritage, explore quirky shops, cafes and the nearby Bellview Wetlands. The town was the first ever to offer free wifi in New Zealand, is where the music for the national anthem was composed and where the country’s first ever bike was built which ties in rather nicely with the Clutha Gold Cycle trail. There is also a free international phone service at the Information Centre; explore and stay at a number of quality and historical accommodation options.