Dunedin Gasworks Museum

The Dunedin gasworks became New Zealand’s first city gasworks in 1863 and was the country’s last to operate when it closed in 1987.

### ODT Online Sat, 12 Feb 2011
Mayor commends gasworks efforts
By John Gibb
The Dunedin Gasworks Museum is “hugely important” both internationally and for the city’s own history, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says. After addressing more than 100 people at a function at the museum on Thursday evening, Mr Cull officially opened the museum’s restored and redeveloped fitting shop. The main $900,000 restoration and redevelopment project was completed in December.
Read more


One of only three such working sites in the world, Dunedin Gasworks Museum offers a unique industrial heritage experience.

“In our Victorian boiler room, we still generate the steam power that drove the system. See New Zealand’s oldest beam engine at work among our massive steam-powered pumps and purifying equipment. Experience the story of this vintage machinery.”

Open every Tuesday and the first and third Sundays of every month.
Hours: 12 noon to 4pm.
Group bookings are welcome at any time.

20 Braemar Street, South Dunedin
(near South Dunedin Warehouse and Pak’N Save)

Phone: (03) 455 5063
Email: info @gasworksmuseum.org.nz

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Inspiration, People, Project management, Site, Urban design

9 responses to “Dunedin Gasworks Museum

  1. Elizabeth

    It was great to hear Mayor Dave Cull’s speech during the special function held at the Dunedin Gasworks Museum on Thursday night. Nice to see Deputy Mayor Chris Staynes and Councillor Fliss Butcher present. Councillor Kate Wilson kindly sent her apologies ahead, owing to a meeting clash.

    Other Councillors were noticeable by their absence.

    The Dunedin City Council owns the gasworks property.

    It has been down to the considerable efforts of enthusiastic volunteers and supporters in the professional heritage management and business sectors, to twist minds and convince the power wielders at Dunedin City Council that they have a heavy responsibility to fund, maintain and conserve this internationally rare and unique historic property.

    It transpires the Council has been the vehicle for demolition of a number of highly significant structures and features on site in previous years, and has overseen ongoing deferred property maintenance. The names of ex local politicians come to mind in the crippling mix. An unglamorous fact.

    Therefore, it has been the longest hardest road.

    Seeing the Fitting Shop this week in its now ‘better than built’ condition, and acknowledging the sheer number of people involved with this outstanding transformation – the wonderful community of volunteers and professionals – has been the greatest pleasure.

    The Dunedin Gasworks Museum Trust and the Board of Trustees have gone to extraordinary lengths to shine the Fitting Shop, this Victorian star of a building! The Dunedin City Council, community funding agencies and sponsors have proudly stepped up to the mark.

    There remain unexplained shadows:
    – Councillors were sparse in attendance at the function.
    – John Bezett, DCC Representative on the trust board didn’t show.
    – Not one General Manager of the Dunedin City Council turned up.

    What does this say about our Council.

    I’m guessing the individuals concerned have their apologies in the mail to the trust board – each with a large personal donation attached, towards museum operating expenses.

  2. Elizabeth

    Dunedin Gasworks Museum, not so great a heritage tourism idea after all. An ‘almost unmitigated’ disaster carrying a huge cost burden… we live and learn. DCC and the Dunedin Gasworks Museum Trust have taken TOO LONG to make this information known to the general public.
    I won’t be visiting this visitor site any time soon unless the whole site and the receiving environment are fully remediated.

    See another DCC-toxic story here.

    [longer citation posted in the public interest]

    ‘Is Dunedin about to discover it is yet another community bearing the brunt of previous generations’ ignorance and inaction?’ (ODT)

    [why yes]

    ### ODT Online Sun, 13 Jul 2014
    What lies beneath
    By Bruce Munro
    Confidential reports on the contaminated former gasworks site in South Dunedin have called it a serious health and safety issue and a significant financial and environmental risk. The two reports lie deep in a thick wad of laboratory results, tank-level data and consultants’ reports recently obtained from the Dunedin City Council by the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act. The first is dated April 30, 2013, the second, June 11, 2013. Both are headed ”Confidential Report” and are addressed to the city council’s Executive Management Team.

    ”A serious Health and Safety issue has been identified at the Council-owned property located at 45 Hillside Rd, South Dunedin,” the first report states. ”It has been identified that the tar pit [containing an estimated 1,000,000 litres of coal tar and water] is filling with water and requires regular removal. The water in the pit is contaminated with hydrocarbons, volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds as well as unacceptable levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons [PAHs].”

    By the time the second report is being typed six weeks later, the situation is being called ”a significant risk to Dunedin City Council in terms of the financial implications and the potential hazard to the environment”.
    Read more

    Related Posts and Comments:
    19.2.13 Dunedin Events: Gasworks150 + Heritage Impact150
    13.5.10 Dunedin City Council preserves Dunedin Gasworks Museum

  3. Back around 2003/04, Cr Jeremy Belcher became aware of this pit containing around 1,000,000 litres of tar and distillate. When he queried as to what was proposed to do about it as he was of the opinion that it was an extreme hazard to the environment, he was told by staff at the time to ‘butt out’ and forget about it. Cr Belcher thereupon set out to make some enquiries on his own behalf. He found that this material had a substantial value as it could be refined down to its basic components and used effectively. There are creasotes, tar, diesel distillates and numerous chemicals inherent in the stuff. He even located an operation in Christchurch which would do the distillation and it was estimated that the end value would be many tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in value. Plus removing the hazard. He wrote up a report on his findings and presented it to the council. It was binned and he was told that it was not his function to do this work as it was staff’s field. And that was that. He still wonders to this day what, if anything was done about it. Now we know. The time bomb is still ticking.

    {Earlier reference made by Calvin Oaten here (Sep 2012). -Eds}

  4. Jeremy Belcher

    If the ODT ever wanted any information relating to the tar pit at Hillside Road – all they needed to do was ask me; I still have all the DCC documents, assays, correspondence from Brian Turner and Tony Avery etc etc etc about what went on there. The ODT knew of my interest in the place, so why waste time going through the OIA? The site visit was done on 10 Dec 2002, with a couple of DCC officers in attendance (in case I ran off with the stuff, I guess). Anyway, it is NOT a waste – it is a resource. And it is worth at least $300,000 :) Good luck, Jeremy Belcher

    • Elizabeth

      Thanks Jeremy. Appreciate the work you did – no doubt people with some intelligence will be keen to follow up with you on the information you hold.

  5. Jeremy Belcher

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I’m happy to put everything I have into a Dropbox folder and send you the link to download the lot (or anyone, for that matter). You’ll see that we were keen to get something done with it, but it was the DCC that eventually pooh-poohed the whole thing and shut the idea down. It was Jim Harland and a couple of the city managers that got a bit worried when we looked like actually making a go of it and they thought it would be better to simply lock people away from it all and buy into the paradigm of “least said, soonest mended”.

  6. So there you are, straight from the horse’s mouth. A ‘RESOURCE’ worth at least $300,000. Watch that value be eaten up by a bunch of rag tag consultants and the stuff will still be under ground. That’s the way the DCC works. It always was thus.

  7. Elizabeth

    Warning: Toxic visitor site……

    ### dunedintv.co.nz July 23, 2014 – 5:57pm
    Dunedin Gasworks Museum back in business
    The Dunedin Gasworks Museum is back in business following the installation of its new $40,000 boiler. The museum has been operating for the last 14 months without steam, leaving many of the machines dormant. And after spending countless hours around the clock to get it ready for tonight’s opening, staff are pleased to finally see steam again.

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