Dirt diggers descend on Gibbston’s hidden heritage


Gibbston’s Susan Stevens (right) has helped clear the way to uncovering some of the valley’s history.

And this weekend a team of Otago archaeologists converge on the valley to map out historic remains of buildings – like this munitions hut – that were, until recently, overgrown with vegetation.

Stevens, chair of Gibbston Community Association, has led countless teams of volunteers over the last couple of years clearing a huge area of scrub to make way for the Gibbston River Trail.

Head archaeologist Peter Petchey previously told her about a few historic orchards planted around the area – and the race was on to save as many as possible.

Now many of the trees and buildings have been recovered – and all clues point to the area being originally owned by early settler Hughie Harvey, who’s believed to have planted the orchards, built stables, the explosives hut and what’s now known as Rum Currie’s hut, Stevens says.

“[The archaeologists] are mapping out the whole site – once that’s done the buildings and trees will be protected under the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.”