Welcome to the historic
Lawrence Chinese Camp
The Lawrence Chinese Camp is the earliest and largest Chinese goldmining settlement in the region of Otago in New Zealand, situated just outside the picturesque township of Lawrence.
The camp was established in 1867 during the Otago goldrush era when there was an influx of Chinese miners following an invitation from the Otago Provincial Council to come to the region to rework the goldfields. At its peak in the late 1880’s the Camp was a thriving trading hub catering to Chinese miners in the Tuapeka District of Otago and home to over 120 residents, including some families from mixed marriages between Chinese men and European women. At the turn of the century, as the surface gold ran out, many Camp residents left Lawrence in search of other employment. By 1946 the camp was empty.
The Camp is now a category 1 New Zealand Heritage historic place. Three original buildings remain: the Empire Hotel, the stables and the Poon Fah Joss House. Preservation and restoration of the buildings is underway. There are plans to convert them into museum spaces and to create a walk through the archeological site that enables visitors to experience the Camp of old and learn about the early Chinese settlers who played a significant part in Otago's goldmining history.
The Lawrence Chinese Camp is a key visitor destination in Lawrence. Ideally located along Highway 8, it is just 1.2km out of Lawrence and is on the Clutha Gold Cycle Trail, with the last stretch of the trail running alongside the camp.