Port Molyneux is a tiny settlement on the coast of South Otago, New Zealand, close to the north-easternmost point of The Catlins. Now home only to farmland, it was a thriving port in the early years of New Zealand's European settlement.
The settlement, located equidistant between Kaka Point and the mouths of the Clutha River / Mata-Au was originally located at the mouth of the Clutha / Mata-Au. It takes its name from Molyneux Harbour, named by Captain James Cook in 1774.In 1838 or 1839, it became the site of a whaling station, with the first permanent European settlers, George Willsher and Thomas Russell, arriving in 1840. The growth of settlement in the area largely started after the 1844 purchase of the Otago Block from local Māori.
The mining of coal at nearby Kaitangata from the 1850s and the discovery of gold inland at Gabriel's Gully (leading to the Otago Gold Rush of 1861–63) led to an increase of the necessity for shipping. Port Molyneux was an obvious destination, even though it was not a particularly good harbour,as it was located close to the regional hub of Balclutha, about 15 kilometres upriver. The town continued to thrive until events in the late 1870s which between them stripped it of its livelihood. First, a major flood in late 1878 carried silt down the Clutha / Mata-Au and changed the river's course. New outlets to the Pacific Ocean were created further up the coast (at its current mouth), and the outlet at Port Molyneux silted up, depriving the town of downriver traffic. Less than six months later, a second disaster for the town occurred, with an explosion at Kaitangata coal mine which killed 34 miners. Compounding these events, 1879 also saw the opening of a railway link from Balclutha to the provincial capital of Dunedin, making for easier transport of goods and passengers to the city and its port.
Almost nothing remains of the town as it was. In its heyday, the town's main street, Pendennis Street (now Port Molyneux Road), led to a central octagon. The township's commercial businesses included two general stores, an ironmonger, a butcher, a painter, a bootmaker, hotels, a carpenter, harbour and customs offices, and a sawmill.There was also a police station and lock-up, a school, and a church. Today, all that remains of the town are one or two derelict buildings inland from an area of coastal swamp. The church was moved four kilometres south to become the church at Kaka Point.
Otago is a region of New Zealand located in the southern half of the South Island administered by the Otago Regional Council. It has an area of approximately 32,000 square kilometres (12,000 sq mi), making it the country's second largest local government region. Its population was 245,300 in June 2020.
Balclutha is a town in Otago, lying towards the end of the Clutha River, on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is about halfway between Dunedin and Invercargill on the Main South Line railway, State Highway 1 and the Southern Scenic Route. Balclutha has a population of 4,230, and is the largest town in South Otago.
The Clutha River / Mata-Au is the second longest river in New Zealand and the longest in the South Island. It flows south-southeast 338 kilometres (210 mi) through Central and South Otago from Lake Wanaka in the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, 75 kilometres (47 mi) south west of Dunedin. It is the highest volume river in New Zealand, and the swiftest, with a catchment of 21,960 square kilometres (8,480 sq mi), discharging a mean flow of 614 cubic metres per second (21,700 cu ft/s). The Clutha River is known for its scenery, gold-rush history, and swift turquoise waters. A river conservation group, the Clutha Mata-Au River Parkway Group, is working to establish a regional river parkway, with a trail, along the entire river corridor. The name of the river was changed to a dual name by the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.
Kaitangata is a town near the coast of South Otago, New Zealand, on the left bank of the Clutha River ten kilometres south east of Balclutha. The town is known to its residents simply as Kai.
The Catlins comprises an area in the southeastern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. The area lies between Balclutha and Invercargill, straddling the boundary between the Otago and Southland regions. It includes the South Island's southernmost point, Slope Point.
South Otago lies in the south east of the South Island of New Zealand. As the name suggests, it forms the southernmost part of the geographical region of Otago.
The Tuapeka River is located in Otago in the South Island of New Zealand. It is a tributary of the Clutha River, which it joins at Tuapeka Mouth between Roxburgh and Balclutha.
Clutha District is a local government district of southern New Zealand, with its headquarters in the Otago town of Balclutha. The Clutha District has a land area of 6,362.86 km² and a 2006 census population of 16,839 usual residents. Clutha District occupies the majority of the geographical area known as South Otago.
Inch Clutha is a large, flat island sitting in the delta between the Matau (northern) and Koau (southern) branches of the Clutha River, downstream from the town of Balclutha in the South Island of New Zealand. Approximately 10 kilometres (6 mi) long and 3 kilometres (2 mi) wide, the fertile but flood-prone land of the island is extensively farmed. The island was formed in 1878 after a massive flood changed the course of the Clutha, which had formerly reached the ocean 4 km to the south at Port Molyneux.
Beaumont is a small town in inland Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand. It is located on the Clutha River / Mata-Au six kilometres southeast of Raes Junction, between Roxburgh and Balclutha. Beaumont is connected to Milton and Roxburgh by State Highway 8.
Owaka is a small town in the Clutha District of South Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand. It is the largest community in the rugged, forested Catlins area, close to the border with Southland, some 35 km (22 mi) south of Balclutha on the Southern Scenic Route.
Kaka Point is a small town at the northern edge of The Catlins, an area of the southern South Island of New Zealand. It is located 14 km south of Balclutha and 8 km north of the headland of Nugget Point. It has a seasonally fluctuating population, and there are numerous cribs at the settlement. It has a permanent population of about 100. The settlement's best known resident was Māori poet Hone Tuwhare, who lived in Kaka Point for many years until his death in 2008. Kaka Point is named for the New Zealand kaka bird, whose signature call is "ka-aa." There is a restaurant, a motel, bed and breakfasts and a camping ground(s) there. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/new-zealand/the-catlins/things-to-do
New Zealand's Otago region is one of the more isolated outliers of the inhabited earth. Its high latitude, elevation and distance from larger foreign and domestic population centers has defined Otago at each stage of its history.
Tahora, later also known as Parae, is a locality in the Otago region of New Zealand's South Island, about one kilometre north of Owaka located at the Ōwaka River. Previously on a railway line, Tahora was a request stop. Today, there is little trace of the settlement and only parts of the railway formation remains visible.
Finegand is a locality in the South Otago region of New Zealand's South Island.
Otanomomo is a locality in the South Otago region of New Zealand's South Island. It is situated on the banks of the Clutha River, roughly 6 km south of Balclutha. Nearby settlements include Finegand to the north, Paretai, Puerua, and Romahapa to the south, and Waitepeka to the west.
Waikawa is a small settlement at the mouth of the Waikawa River in Southland, New Zealand, at the southwestern edge of The Catlins.
Waiwera South is a small settlement in the South Island of New Zealand, close to the boundary between the Otago and Southland regions. The settlement is located between Balclutha and Clinton, immediately to the south of State Highway 1, between branches of the Waiwera River and Kaihiku Stream, two minor tributaries of the Clutha River. The South Island Main Trunk railway also runs through the township. The settlement's population is around 100.
State Highway 91 (SH 91) was part of the New Zealand state highway network before briefly becoming part of SH 92 in 1990–91. It ran for 13 kilometres through South Otago in the southern South Island. SH 92 itself had its status revoked a year later.
Wangaloa is a small coastal settlement in South Otago, New Zealand. It is located to the north of the mouths of the Clutha River the beach area, close to the town of Kaitangata. There is access to Wangaloa Beach from the Kaitangata Golf course. Wangaloa is connected to Toko Mouth, 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to the north, by a coastal road, and to Kaitangata, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the west, by a road which crests a low range of coastal hills.