Four-wheel driving in Central Otago is an original experience that provides opportunities for you to access and enjoy some of New Zealand’s most striking and majestic scenery. The unique vast, open terrain tells its own tales of hardship and prosperity as settlers seeking fortunes in gold and farming have often struggled to survive. It’s a landscape of unsurpassed stark beauty that’s captured the imagination of film-maker Peter Jackson and artist Grahame Sydney alike.
Choose a tour that’s custom-made to meet your interests: trace the footsteps of Central Otago gold miners, visiting old gold-mining sites and historic dwellings. See the spectacular rocky tors featured in the Lord of the Rings’ movies and marvel at the panoramic views that form the movies’ backdrop. Enjoy the beauty of a trip through the high country, taking in a spot of brown trout fishing at a clear stream or mountain lake, or yarn with locals about high-country farm life and the history of the earliest European settlers. Mountain Bike charter adventures, guided fishing tours and tours customised to suit can all be arranged.
The road to the Nevis Valley ascends to 1300m on the Carrick Range behind Bannockburn where there are wonderful views back over Cromwell, Lake Dunstan and the Upper Clutha Valley and then descends into the hidden Nevis valley. To visualize the activity that went on over 100 years ago, astonishes and stretches the imagination.
The Thomson’s Gorge route bisects the Dunstan Mountains and follows the track that led from the Manuherikia Valley to the gold mines of Bendigo. Thomson’s Creek and the Rise and Shine valley en-route see you travelling through gold fields that were once home to many and bustling with activity.
Known as the ‘Mountain Track’ the Dunstan Trail was a way to the riches of the interior. Used by gold miners seeking the riches of the Dunstan gold diggings in the 1860’s, it was the shortest viable route from Dunedin to Dunstan (Clyde) crossing Rough Ridge and the Rock and Pillar ranges.
The Onslow Road
The Onslow Road is a route from Paerau (Styx) to Roxburgh via Lake Onslow. The track wends its way through lonely hills and affords spectacular views over the fruit bowl that is the Teviot Valley. The whole route is scenic with a rugged, desolate landscape typical of Central Otago.
The Dunstan Trail, Nevis Road and Onslow Road are all closed during Winter – June to 30 September. Please observe all locked gates and road closure signs.