The Maniototo’s wide open spaces are full of trails and tales, there are discoveries to be made. Feel free to immerse yourself in our rich history, explore the land, linger a bit and get to know the locals.
1. Mountain Biking
Discover a network of Mountain Bike Trails through the Naseby Forest - whether you’d prefer an easy ride or a good work out, the choices are there. The great thing about these cycle trails - access is free.
If you’re visiting the Maniototo during the hot summer months, look no further than the Naseby Swimming Dam - or chat to a local to discover a truly secret swimming spot.
3. Otago Central Rail Trail
Over 80km of the Otago Central Rail Trail run through the Maniototo. Developed for cyclists, walkers and horse riders, the Otago Central Rail Trail follows the former Otago Central branch railway line for 150kms from Middlemarch to Clyde. View hidden treasures unable to be seen from the road from vast mountain vistas, wide open space and meandering waterways. If you really feel like a challenge - enter the Rail Trail Duathlon, held in the last weekend of February each year.
4. Food & Drink
Whether you’re after locally farmed, award winning Provenance Lamb, a Pie & a Pint, the best eggs benedict around, or a turmeric latte and a salad - The Maniototo has got you covered. There are a great range of options for eating and drinking - stay a while and try them all.
The Maniototo is home to the Southern Hemisphere's only dedicated indoor curling rink. Keep cool on a hot Central Otago summer day and try something new, curling is fun for the whole family!
6. Local Art
With it’s stunning landscapes, peace and tranquility, it’s no wonder that many artists draw inspiration from the Maniototo. Award winning photographer, Janyne Fletcher, has a gallery on the main street of Ranfurly. Artist, Luke Anthony, carves native New Zealand birds from native New Zealand Timber. Watercolourist Russell Perry and Photographer Steven Smith, both display works in SELAH gallery at En Hakkore. You’ll find a range of other locally crafted products at The Practice, located in Ranfurly.
The Maniototo has a number of camping spots - and with wide open spaces, there is always plenty of room. There are a couple of domains that offer free camping, as well as camping grounds that have full facilities - Contact Ranfurly i-SITE for more information.
For some of the superb fishing in the Maniototo, the Taieri River is the best kept fisherman’s secret there is. In addition to the rivers, there are a number of dams and ponds. There are fishing guides in the area and a brochure is available from Ranfurly i-SITE detailing where to go, licences can be purchased online or at the i-SITE.
9. Dark Skies
Away from all of the big cities, the dark skies of the Maniototo make for fantastic viewing of the night sky. You can go it alone, or get some help from the team at Waipiata Sky Wonders. If you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to view Aurora Australis!
10. Four Wheel Driving
One of the best ways to explore the stunning scenery that the Maniototo has to offer, is to go off road and up into the hills. There are 4WD tracks that are open to the public, or take a guided tour with a local expert.
11. Sled Dogs
Pay a visit to the largest kennel of Alaskan Malamutes in the Southern Hemisphere and the only 3 Canadian Eskimo Dogs in New Zealand. Take a tour of the kennels and meet the dogs, and if the weather is right, take a ride with a sled dog team.
From gentle strolls through Naseby forest, or along the river at Sowburn to tramping through Oteake Conservation Park, there are options to suit all ages and abilities. Don’t forget your camera, the scenery will be breathtaking!
13. Gold Mining History
Discover towering sluiced cliffs, tunnels, water races, dams, mining equipment, impressive stone masonry, mud brick cottages and assorted relics. The region's dry continental climate has ensured all has been preserved, much as it was. Golden Progress Mine in the Ida Valley has the only poppet head still standing in Central Otago. You’ll find all sorts of leftovers from the golden days when you explore Kyeburn Diggings and Naseby Forest.
The Maniototo is home to various museums. The Maniototo Early Settlers Museum and Jubilee Museum is located in Naseby, highlight the early of the numerous small settlements which make up the Maniototo region. While the Ranfurly Art Deco Gallery, situated in the Centennial Milk Bar displays treasures from the Art Deco era of the 1930’s.
Shortlands shed is set at the base of the Kakanui Ranges, and is Maniototo’s first Glamp site. On a 15,000 acre working high country sheep station. It sits on the edge of a creek overlooking golden tussock hill country. Guests will experience a stunning mountain vista, with 360 degree views of the surrounding high country. A cedar wood-fired hot tub sits in a prime position to take it all in while soaking in steaming hot, fresh mountain water. At night, the view of the night sky and stars is amazing. If Glamping is not for you, check out the other unique accommodation in the Maniototo.
With green fees from just $5, the golf courses in the Maniototo would have to be some of the best value the country. Wedderburn, Patearoa, Naseby and Ranfurly are all home to 9-hole courses.
17. Clachanburn Garden - A Garden of National Significance
Jane Falconer welcomes you to her rambling country garden, set in the stark beauty of the Maniototo. The lawns and borders roll gracefully away from the house to two large ponds with rugged hills to one side and the distant mountains beyond, giving an impression of a lush oasis in the heat and dry of Central Otago. Experience a Garden tour, Devonshire tea or Lunch, maybe take home a little gift from Jane’s shop - the choice is yours!
18. Gilchrist's Store
Gilchrist’s Store in Oturehua is New Zealand’s oldest continuously operating general store. Endowed with shelves of nostalgic ‘Kiwiana’ products bearing long gone brands. Built in 1899, this store is a rare delight for any nostalgia enthusiast, successfully merging the old and new. The shelves boast memorabilia such as the original telephone exchange, an antique bacon slicer, tinned coffee and food from the late 1800’s. Present day goods are also sold.
19. Hayes Engineering
Hayes Engineering Works and Homestead is a heritage site consisting of a fascinating 1900s engineering factory, farm buildings and a quirky 1920s house and garden. Be sure to check out one of their operating days, where all of the old machinery is brought to life.
20. Stunning Landscapes
The photo’s speak for themselves….
This article was produced by the Maniototo Promotions group and published with the support of Tourism Central Otago.