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Historic Cobblestone Path To Be Preserved

A glimpse of the type of road which goods likely travelled between Dunedin’s wharf and railway yards in the late 19th century has been uncovered, albeit temporarily.

Contractors working on the first stage of Dunedin City Council’s Harbour Arterial improvements project last week discovered several sections of bluestone pavement buried beneath Wharf Street, under the Cumberland Street overbridge.

DCC Group Manager Transport Jeanine Benson says while the discovery by Isaac Construction is exciting, the best way to protect the piece of infrastructure heritage in the long term is to re-bury it.

“Along with our archaeology consultants, we explored options to keep some of the cobblestones visible for the public to enjoy. However, they are at a level too low to leave them exposed without risk of damage, and modification or extraction were also recommended against,” Ms Benson says.

The exposed cobblestones have been cleaned down and recorded by archaeologists. They will be covered with geotextile and crusher dust for long term protection before being re-buried tomorrow.

Consultant archaeologist Braden McLean, from NZ Heritage Properties, says, “This is a fantastic and rare example of a large intact paved crossing which appears to have been associated with a high-traffic area between a large railway goods shed and the associated wharfs.”

Mr McLean says the exact age of the paving is unknown. However, some of it appears to be associated with a railway goods shed (known as Shed D), which was tendered in 1883.

“This land was reclaimed and was known to be terribly muddy. There was a lot of frustration over the condition of the road, so it is likely the railways installed this path to make access easier between the shed and the wharf.

“The asphalt laid in the 1970s, at the time the Cumberland Street overbridge was built, has done a good job preserving the surface. Re-burying the features is therefore the best way to protect them,” he says.

Ms Benson says the discovery of the historic paving and subsequent protection measures will have a negligible impact on the overall project timeline and cost.

More details about the Harbour Arterial improvement project – designed to provide a faster, more efficient alternative route through the city during the Dunedin Hospital rebuild – is available online at www.dunedin.govt.nz/harbour-arterial.


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