The Naseby Forest is a privately owned Central Otago forest that provides huge recreational facilities for walkers and bikers. At various times, logging operations may restrict access to one or more areas and the private property holder’s rights must be considered.
This exotic forest area covers what was the sluiced ground of the Naseby goldfield. Planting began in 1900 from which Douglas fir, larch, and Corsican pine have self seeded to create the forest you see today. It has an open forest floor but there are many tracks (mostly flat, undulating, or following natural contours) that make for hours of exploration. Walking or biking are the only two activities allowed but the area is adjacent to Naseby township, swimming dams, skating rink, fishing, and golf.
A popular route is to follow the Mount Ida Water Race. Begun in 1873, this government owned race starts many kilometers away in the Manuherikia River. It winds its way along the Hawkdun Range, picking up more and more water from streams as it flows towards Naseby. Originally to feed the gold sluices, it now provides much needed irrigation to farmers in the upper Maniototo area. The track follows the course of the race through the forest and provides a flat, easy walk upstream from the Naseby swimming dam.
Return times for the Water Race walk are; swimming dam to Hoffmans Dam 1.5 hours, swimming dam to Coalpit Dam 2.5 hours, swimming dam to Coalpit Dam and return via Species Walk 3.5 hours. There is a picnic area, playground, and toilets at Coalpit Dam.
There are many other walking tracks in the forest so take your pick. The Water Race track does have the best surface and is always a great forest walk no matter what the weather. There is a strict code of conduct whilst in the forest and visitors are asked to adhere strictly to the prevailing conditions.