Location 157
Location #157. Bannockburn & Kawarau Ferry.
Map 3

Kawarau River



Location #157. Bannockburn & Kawarau Ferry.

Still Standing


Construction Details

The ferry or punt as it came to be known was constructed by Douglas and Alderson, The description of the punt is unknown but it may well have been similar to location #334, consisting of a platform of about 20ft long by 16ft wide built upon two boats which were placed longitudinally under the platform. The boats may well have been around 28ft long with a beam of around 8ft, clinker-built, double ended construction. This punt started life in the early part of 1863 when Louis Jean Hubert (Loius the Frenchman of the Carrick Range) and several partners built a barge at Makarora and floated it down to Cromwell where it was to be fitted up as a spoon gold dredge. However, his partners went cold on the idea and he was left to hawk his proposition unsuccessfully amongst the miners. Eventually it was purchased by James Stuart who had it converted into the Kawarau Ferry.

Location Type


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Interested Parties

The table below shows the groups of people that had an interest in this property, either as owners, residents, tenants or shareholders. Clicking on the 'Details' link will display a list of the individuals in the group along with any known historical information about them.

Group Date Description
1 1867 - 1876 James Stuart Details


The table below shows any historical notes about the location.

Note Date Short Description Note Text
2145 1867 Location of the ferry. The ferry was located on the Kawarau River about 100m downstream from the present bridge (location #152). The right bank landing was close to James Stuarts 'Ferry Hotel' (see location #158)
2147 1866 James Stuart was building his punt. James Stuart was building his punt. (Notes from the original manuscript of "Heart of the Desert" by J P Parcell )
2146 1867 Drowning on the Kawarau River. In March of 1867, Thomas Stanley who was the publican of the Shamrock Hotel at Roaring Meg, was drowned in the Kawarau River. He was crossing the river after dark just below Stuarts Hotel (location #158). It was common practice for horsemen to ride across the rivers, and they knew where the bars and shallow places were located. This was approximately the location that James Stuart chose for his Bannockburn & Kawarau Ferry.
2148 1867 James Stuarts ferry was completed. In September of 1867, James Stuarts ferry was completed and put to use. However the official opening did not take place until 18 October.
2149 1867 Advertisement in the Dunstan Times, 18 Oct 1867. On Friday, Oct 18 1867 the Dunstand Times ran the following advertisement. " Stuarts Ferry Kawarau River Main crossing place between Cromwell and Nevis for wagons, drays, horses and foot passengers. Children attending school, free. The Ferry Hotel - first class accommodation for travellers. "
2150 1867 Article in the same edition of the Dunstan Times. In the same addition of the Dunstan Times (18 Oct 1867) the following article appeared. " Christening of the Bannockburn and Nevis Ferry, from the Cromwell correspondent : Last Friday (11/10/1867) was one of the gayest of all days with residents of Cromwell and the surrounding districts, with the exception of one, on which the governor passed through the locality. The punt in question forms an important part of the road between Cromwell and the Nevis, and is placed to ply over the Kawarau, about three miles (4.8kms) above Cromwell. Although it has been available to traffic for some time, no formal opening and naming had been undertaken until Friday last. Mr Stuart, proprietor of the ferry has issued a general invitation to all the inhabitants of the district, including the scholars of the Cromwell school, and it could not be but gratifying to himself and Mrs Stuart to find such a universal appreciation of the invitations issued. Conveyances of every description were pressed to the service of the day, and by two o'clock the scene in and out of Mr Stuarts hotel was a most animated one. Soon after that, the house party proceeded to the punt to witness the christening; the youthful daughter of Mr Stuart performed the ceremony in the usual way and named the punt 'the Bannockburn and Kawarau Ferry'. The weather proving unpropitious at that very moment, no speeches were delivered, the guests being compelled to make a hasty retreat to the pavilion (especially constructed in front of the Ferry Hotel for the christening ceremony) where the most sumptuous banquet awaited them, Mr W J Barry, Mayor of Cromwell occupied the chair, and Mr G W Goodger the vice; before the table was cleared, the company was considerably augmented by a large party of miners from the surrounding districts. Mr Robert Edwards, of Cromwell proposed a toast to the queen and the royal family; the toast was responded to amidst great cheering, Mr Whetters band playing "God Save the Queen". The mayor of Cromwell then rose and said that it gave him much pleasure to propose 'prosperity' to the Bannockburn and Kawarau Ferry. He had known Mr Stuart from his earliest days and found him a man of perseverance and enterprise, and he (Mr Barry) need only point to the great outlay of capital in erecting the punt, and forming the approaches to either side of the river in proof of the enterprise of his friend Mr Stuart. He (the speaker) understood that £1000 sterling had been placed on the estimate by the government towards making the road to the Nevis, and that although Mr Stuarts ferry was a private enterprise he considered that a portion of the £1000 sterling voted, should be given to Mr Stuart to aid his private outlay, and especially as the ferry was the most important part of the road from the Nevis to Cromwell. He would suggest that a memorial be drawn up, signed by the inhabitants of the district, and forwarded to the proper authorities, praying that Mr Stuarts outlay be taken into consideration by them, and an adequate proportion of the £1000 sterling be granted to him. Mr McMahon then proposed the health of Mr and Mrs Stuart. Mr Stuart rose to reply and give a full account of how he came to be induced to place the punt where it was, and in doing so he stated that Mr Ziele was the first to point out an opening to settle down permanently where the ferry now is, and he did not regret adopting Mr Ziele's advice. Mr Talboys of Clyde proposed to the ladies. Mr Marshall proposed the mining and commercial interests; responded to by Mr D Booth. Mr Goodger proposed to the rising generations; Mr McKellar responding. Mr Smithiam proposed to the press, which was suitably responded to. The toasts and responses having concluded, the company retired to the pavilion where dancing was carried on with high spirit until a late hour. "
2151 1867 Part of the cost of construction of the ferry was paid by Mess'rs Anderson and Douglas. Part of the cost of construction of the ferry was paid by Mess'rs Anderson and Douglas of Kawarau Station as it opened up better access for the station.
2152 1869 A second ferry service was set up by John Richards. With the increasing traffic to the Carrick Range reefs the ferry proved to be very successful. In August of 1869 a second ferry service was set up by Mr John Richards, the proprietor of the Bannockburn Hotel. This ferry (location #152) was situated about 1/4 mile upstream from Stuarts Ferry.
2153 1871 James Stuart upgraded the approach to his ferry. James constructed a new road to his ferry to improve the precarious approach. (It is unclear on which side of the river the new approach was built)
2154 1874 The Kawarau Bridge was built between the two ferries. A bridge (location #153), located between the two ferry sites was constructed by the Kawarau Bridge Company , and authorised to charge tolls. The bridge soon put the two ferries out of business. (Note - John Richards, the owner of he other ferry service, was one of the founding partners in the Kawarau Bridge Company)
2155 1876 James Stuart closed the hotel and his ferry service. James Stuart closed down his hotel and ferry service and moved to Cromwell, where he and his wife purchased the Victoria Hotel.


The table below shows a list of images related to the location. Click on 'View Image' to display more details about the image, and to view the image.

Image Id Source Date Short Description
882 Mrs M Craig - Cromwell 1872 Otago Witness, 5 Oct 1872 - Accidents on Bannockburn punt. View Image
883 Mrs M Craig - Cromwell 1872 Otago Witness 22 Oct 1872 - Bannockburn Punt - letter to the editor. View Image