The Maniototo Region of Central Otago .

Distances to Ranfurly

  • Alexandra (Rt#8)                        87kms
  • Duntroon via Danseys Pass   78kms
  • Dunedin via Middlemarch       149kms
  • Naseby                                       13kms
  • Palmerston(Rt#1)                     80kms
  • Milton (Rt#1)                               117kms

The Maniototo - 1 1/2 from Dunedin, 2 hours from Queesntown.  A relatively unknown area and alternative route from Dunedin (rather than through Lawrence/Roxburgh) to Alexandra.  One of the finest “off the main route” excursions to take in The South Island . It is an area of big sky and mighty vistas with the second highest sunshine count in New Zealand . You can head that way from the East Coast turning inland at Palmerston, Dunedin or Milton or another way is driving south from  the West Coast on Rt#6 to Alexandra.

The Coalpit Dam area outside of Naseby is a top picnic spot and makes a great swimming hole and excellent fishing. The Manuhherikia River off the road to St. Bathans is also an excellent fishing river.    There is a fantastic loop walk in Patearoa, following the Sowburn River up through heritage sites and back down the other side.

Make it a point this year to be in Ranfurly the week of the Ranfurly Art Deco Summer Festival held the last weekend of February every year  if you can.  The weekend is usually marvelous, beginning with the usually grand Maniototo weather.  The Ranfurly population of 957 swells to bursting with locals and visitors alike dressed in the art deco theme and motoring along in fantastic automobiles of the era.

The history of the Art Deco buildings began in a re-building of the town in the early 1930’s. In 1999 the Ranfurly community, headed by Edna McAtamney, began the process of developing the town into a Rural Art Deco theme. It is a small town with a big identity now thanks to the earlier initiative. It continues to be run by community volunteers today.

 It is wonderful when a town closes down it’s entire Main Street and turns it into a giant party. Last time there  was also a very large group of marathon runners on the RailTrail that passes through town. The RailTrail opened in 2000 and is maintained by DoC for all walkers, mountain bikers and occasionally horse riders. It is an improved site that once was occupied by the railway that brought the gold miners to Central Otago from Dunedin now a great new track for anyone wishing to have a go. You can involve yourself in as little or as much as you like along its length.  Have a look at their website at:  www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz  for more information.

 The famous Cavalcade was to end just down the road at Patearoa the following weekend. Now this was an event one had heard a lot about so made it a point to be there for the grand finale of their trip. Talk about a thrill watching over 500 individuals who had just spent an arduous time following the old gold trails throughout Otago and northern Southland in a re-enactment of the early pioneers walking, riding horses and driving wagons and carts. They all finished at Patearoa in a long parade that ended at the grounds set aside for their welcome and the evening’s party. It was like stepping back in time to watch the people involved pass by with a proud wave and very satisfied smile. They certainly deserved the praise and welcome they received. The Cavalcade will finish in Cromwell next year.

Kay Dundass, local resident and journalist for the Otago newspaper, was at the Cavalcade and she invited to visit the Museum at Naseby .  Kay has had a large part in promoting the town and especially the Museum. On Sunday when got there she was at the Museum where a personal and most fascinating tour was held. What a history! Naseby was once the heart of gold mining in the region. It is a most wonderful town to visit and stroll around. The houses have been refurbished to exemplify the town’s historic past.

Had the pleasure of stopping by the newly refurbished Royal Hotel and received a personal tour through by Christopher Spears who introduced himself as the owner’s partner. They have spent a great deal of time bringing this building back to the way it was in the beginning. Sunday evening it was packed with locals and visitors alike enjoying a real pub evening.   Check out: www.naseby.co.nz 

A fabulous bonus to a visitor in Naseby is a very special place and a sport not known to very many. Curling, usually done in the extreme cold of winter months by only the hardy. In Naseby, home of New Zealand curling, they have constructed an indoor curling rink where you can visit every day and even give it a try yourself. Have a look a their website for more information: Naseby Indoor Curling Rink . This is a must visit.

Right beside The Maniototo Indoor Curling Centre is the way-cool Naseby Ice Luge - the only track of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The luge opened in 2008 and operates over winter (June to September) depending on the severity of the weather & is open to the public. You book at The Skating Rink on (03)444-9270. The luge web site is www.lugenz.com.  

Last year took the 42km drive over Dansy’s Pass to Naseby from Duntroon and noticed the Dansy’s Pass Coach Inn at 2000ft above sea level  when came through but didn’t take the time to stop so this time drove the 16kms from Naseby and had a good look. Built in 1862 it still appears as if it is almost the same today. Worth a drive just to experience 16 kms from Naseby.

 When in the area take the short drive to St. Bathans and visit the Hotel and the Blue Lake . Stayed overnight at their expansive Domain outside of town. To continue the drive around the region continue on to have a look at Ophir assuming you began your tour from the north coming from Palmerston turnoff on Route One or maybe the road from outside Dunedin through Middlemarch. 

The whole trip is exhilarating. You may want to extend your trip along the entire Otago Goldfields Heritage Trail that includes the route from Alexandra through Roxburgh and Lawrence back to Milton or go from Alexandra on to Cromwell continuing to Glenorchy, Queenstown, Arrowtown and Wanaka. 140 years ago the hills began ringing with the sounds of gold recovery and thousands descended upon this region to get rich. Still gold being discovered as this summer in Arrow River a nugget of the $10,000.00 size. Arrowtown was formed by the original gold discovery in 1862 where in the first two weeks over 42 lbs(19kg) 0f gold was panned.

 Goldfields Heritage Trail website: www.nzsouth.co.nz/goldfields

 Because of the climate many of the old buildings still stand and add a dimension of understanding to how the early pioneers existed. Don’t miss this area in your travels and try to do it so you can enjoy the Ranfurly Festival and, best of all, the Cavalcade finish.