Last Modified: 21-2-2019 0:54
Linkwater is a small settlement in an area of low lying flat land between Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sounds. Linkwater has a school, a hotel, a community hall, and the only service station supplying fuel for the entire Keneperu area. An Anglican church build in the 1950s served the community until 2015, however due to dwindling numbers, the church was deconsecrated and sold. The Waikakaho/Cullen Creek Walkway through Mount Richmond Forest Park has its northern end near Linkwater. Population for Linkwater and the surrounding area at the 2013 Census stood at 237.
The area has extensive dairy farming on low lying flat land, while forestry is important on steeper areas. Due to its strategic location providing the only road access to Keneperu and much of the outer Marlborough Sounds, and its central point on the Link Pathway, tourism is also important for Linkwater with a number of accommodation providers and activities.
In the mid 19th century the growth in British colonisation of New Zealand resulted in great demand house building materials. This fuelled logging ventures anywhere which was accessible to transport. Linkwater, being at close proximity to the sea and having an excellent stand of Kahikatea was soon singled out for milling. The first settlers arrived in 1861, immediately commenced cutting the forest and soon established saw mills. Three years later gold was discovered in Hall's Creek nearby. Within days Picton and Canvastown swelled to thousands. In Linkwater three hotels appeared within months and 32 000 ounces of gold were shipped to Picton over two years.
Gold was discovered in Cullen's Gully south of Linkwater in 1888 and led to the establishment of the now abandoned township of Cullensville at the head of the Mahakapawa Valley. At its peak, Cullensville had a population of over 1000 and included a school, a post office, a bank, courthouse, three hotels and various other facilities. The easily worked gold was recovered within two years, followed by a gradual decline, through to the early 20th Century.
By 1867 the gold traffic had disappeared and only a few years later, just over ten years after it first appeared, the last saw mill closed. At this point, the whole forest floor lay in a tangle of branches and stumps. Being largely low lying damp land the area proved valuable for dairy farming. Soon the whole valley became famous for its dairy industry. In 1911 the Linkwater Co-operative Dairy Factory was formed to produce cheese and cream as well as milk for the rest of Marlborough. This continued until 1953 when it was no longer able to compete with larger factories.