Gimmerburn, Kyeburn, Kokonga, Naseby, Oturehua, Patearoa, Paerau, Ranfurly, Waipiata, Wedderburn
Natural light reflects off the velvet folds of magnificent mountain ranges onto pastoral valleys, rocky tors and the awesome sprawling Maniototo Plain. Throughout this vast landscape remnants of a prosperous gold mining past lie in the scarred hillsides, occasional mud-brick buildings, old stone fences and lonely cemeteries. It is a timeless land where the Taieri River meanders lazily, and empty roads stretch by irrigated farmlands to historic, sleepy townships.
Discover the picturesque old gold mining townships of Naseby, St Bathans and Patearoa. Evidence of gold diggings also exists at Kyeburn, Golden Progress Mine, and in Hamiltons district. Marvel at the restored 1930s simple modernist art deco architecture of Ranfurly. This is Maniototo's main town and New Zealand's Rural Art Deco oasis.
In St Bathans both the post office and the reputedly haunted Vulcan Hotel, are still in business. Nearby Blue Lake resulted from the flooding of an enormous pit left by the world’s deepest hydraulic mining lift of gravel.
Visit Hayes Engineering Works at Oturehua, the home of impressive farming inventions (1895-1933). The plant features equipment still used and exported today. Nearby the Gilchrist's general store, trading since 1902 is crammed with memorabilia of its life as a general store.
Imagine the Lord of the Rings movie set at Poolburn Reservoir, instantly recognisable as the Village of Rohan.
Experience the ancient Scottish ice sport of curling at Naseby. Fish on the Taieri River. Take the Maniototo section of the Otago Central Rail Trail, the Sowburn Walkway, or established tracks through the forests.
For information on local events visit the Maniototo promotions group website www.maniototo.co.nz
Danseys Pass links Central Otago to the Waitaki District. This classic alpine pass is unsealed, narrow in places and can be closed by snow during winter. Danseys Pass was once well used for gold mining traffic, now the only substantial building remaining is the Danseys Pass Coach Inn built in 1862.
Situated in the middle of the Maniototo Plains, Gimmerburn has been immortalised by acclaimed Central Otago artist Grahame Sydney in his painting, Family Trees - Gimmerburn Rd.The name Gimmerburn means a young ewe, which is an apt name for this predominantly farming community noted for producing excellent fine wool.
Hamiltons has an intriguing and continuous history that is still evident today. Approximately 20 minutes drive from Ranfurly, Hamiltons is just above Patearoa and En Hakkore Religious Retreat, which was originally built as a tuberculosis sanitarium in the 1930s. The Hamiltons Cemetery is a lonely tribute to Hamiltons past and an example of history, preserved.
Set amid awesome mountainous scenery and situated on the Taieri River, Kokonga is a sight to behold. Approximately 25km south of Ranfurly and 30km north of Middlemarch, Kokonga offers great picnicking, swimming, fishing and a visually breathtaking stopover, whether travelling by road or on the Otago Central Rail Trail.
Along the northeast end of the Maniototo Plains, 10 minutes east of Ranfurly is the Upper Kyeburn and Lower Kyeburn. The meandering Kyeburn River beneath rutted cliffs is a peaceful reminder of Kyeburn’s golden hey days. Kyeburn was once a stopping point for Cobb & Co coaches on their journey to Naseby and the Otago interior.
One of the most charming of Otago's gold rush settlements, Nasby is often referred to as the ‘jewel of the Maniototo'. The town is located within Naseby forestry, 10 minutes northeast of Ranfurly. Explore a wealth of Victorian architecture, or have a go at the ancient game of curling, outdoor ice skating or downhill ice luge.
Oturehua translates to ‘the sun God’. Boasting views of Mt Ida and the Hawkdun Range, this farming community rests alongside the Otago Central Rail Trail. It is home to Hayes Engineering Works, and just to the south is the Idaburn Dam where a Bonspiel (ancient curling tournament) will be held when winter conditions are right.
Amazing views, spectacular fishing, historical stories and intricate waterways are all part of the journey to Paerau. Located at the southern end of the expansive Maniototo valley, this is the starting point to explore the Serpentine Valley gold diggings and the headlands of the Taieri River, New Zealand’s only example of a scroll plain wetland.
Originally known as Sowburn, Patearoa is regularly used as a base by fishermen who return to fish the Taieri River and its extensive wetlands. It is situated in the centre of a predominantly farming community. The remains of a small Chinese settlement can be reached by the Sowburn Walkway, unveiling some of the area’s intriguing history.
Famous for its Art Deco architecture, Ranfurly is a bustling service hub in the heart of the Maniototo alongside the Otago Central Rail Trail. In February the town comes alive and its population swells with visitors keen to partake in the Ranfurly Art Deco Festival. People dress in the fashion of the era and enjoy the entertainment.
Waipiata is situated on the Otago Central Rail Trail, 6km from Ranfurly and 30km from Hyde. This corner of the Maniototo Plains was once a thriving railway camp servicing the Otago Central Railway line. Originally named Komako, meaning ‘Bellbird’, the name was later changed to Waipiata, which means glistening water.
Wedderburn is a convenient stop on the highest point of the Otago Central Rail Trail. The Wedderburn railway goods shed made famous by acclaimed artist Grahame Sydney in his painting ‘July in Maniototo’, has been restored to its original site at the southern end of the township adjacent to the only remaining Vogel 5 railway station and ticket office in New Zealand.