This expedition takes us south from Queenstown to the small country town of Garston where we say good bye to sealed roads and head for the hills.

With varied terrain including river flats and tussock grasslands in the high country,  huge rock tors and the spiked native spear grass plants covering the mountain saddles, this expedition provides an adventurous day out in an area rich with gold mining history. It is accessible to most 4WD vehicles and drivers with quite limited off road driving experience.

A great day out exploring the remote Nevis Valley for the whole family, this expedition showcases what Central Otago has to offer.




From Queenstown we head south following Lake Wakatipu to the small township of Garston for a last takeaway coffee and fresh muffin.

Leaving Garston we gain altitude and climb up into tussock country at the southern end of the Hector Mountains over Nokomai Saddle.

We descend into the southern Nevis Valley where we find the Nevis River.





We follow the river until it opens out out to be a wide, barren, typical Otago high country valley. After numerous small fords and creek crossings, we start to see the gold mining remnants, from sluicing ponds and pipework to historic buildings. We pass the an old settlement and turn off to explore the old cemetery.


After lunch, we leave the Nevis valley and river behind to climb up and over Duffers Saddle where we spend time amongst the rock tors enjoying the magnificent views over Lake Dunstan, Cromwell and the Pisa Range. If time allows,  we will extend the tour to explore the first part of the Old Woman Range. This track provides a totally different experience from the Nevis Road, with great off-roading in a unique alpine setting.


Descending down to the old 1858 township of Bannockburn, we stop at the local pub for a dust quenching drink and debrief. From Bannockburn we say our goodbyes and head back to Queenstown in our own time.






The earliest settlers in the Nevis were the Maori. Though it was too cold to establish permanent settlements in the valley, there are signs of Maori summer moa hunting camps and ovens close to the bridge at Schoolhouse Creek.

Despite the great flood of 1866, which destroyed all evidence of the earliest mining, an interesting story of the evolution of alluvial gold mining methods is preserved in the workings on the valley floor in the lower Nevis. At its peak in 1866, there was a population of some 600 people in the valley. By the late 1860s the Chinese population outnumbered the Europeans. It is believed that there could have been as many as 500 Chinese working the Lower Nevis area with the majority of them on the terrace opposite the mouth of Commissioners Creek.

Very graphic and disheartening description of the Nevis in the first Warden's Report of the gold field in 1865: “Nevis is so isolated and remote from every centre of population that it is just beginning to be discovered. This cold, sequestered, and ice bound region, hemmed in on all sides except where it opens to the Kawarau will probably never attract a very large population. It will be a storehouse of wealth to the hardy adventurers who are prepared to brave its inclement climate”. That description is still largely true today, well over a century after it was written.





click on image to view



View of Reverend George Hunter McNeur (centre) standing outside a stone hut in the Nevis Valley with two Chinese men, probably goldminers. Photograph taken circa 1900, by an unidentified photographer.Nevis Hill. Mail CoachChinese gold miners, and Reverend George Hunter McNeur, by a cob hut at Carrick's Road, Potters Gully, Nevis, Otago, circa 1900. Photographer unidentified.Harvesting in the Nevis (opposite the settlement) late 1800's.A view of the Nevis settlement in the 1940's.Typical hydraulic mining operation in the Lower Nevis early 1900's.Edward (Teddy) Laurence taking mail to Nevis, Carrick Range"To save the brakes, they tied a boulder on behind and dragged it down. On the Bannockburn side, Jim Richie's woolshed was constructed of brake boulders from the top of the Carrick Range". Nevis Valley Hotel<>x



  • Available on our guided passenger tour or tag along
  • Full commentary at each stop
  • Explore the stunning remote Nevis Valley and its past
  • Explore the rock tors on Duffers Saddle
  • Amazing views down to Lake Dunstan, Cromwell and the Pisa Range
  • Explore first part of Old Woman range








ADULTS       2 Adults     3 Adults     4 Adults    Child PRICE          $495pp      $375pp      $299pp     $55

    • Minimum 2 adults
    • Child (16 and under)
    • Maximum 4 passengers



    • 8-10 hours ex Queenstown



    • Morning tea and lunch
    • Extremely comfortable 4x4 vehicle
    • 15% NZ Goods & Services Tax


These prices are for private vehicle charter and guide.



Alternatively, payment with credit cards, eftpos or cash can be made direct on the day, contact us for details.






    • $895 single vehicle
    • $POA - 2 or more vehicles



    • 8-10 hours ex Queenstown



    • Hand held radio use
    • Morning tea
    • Includes 15% NZ Goods & Services Tax


We offer discounts off the standard price with the following.

    • Booking 2 or more vehicles
    • Family bookings
    • Multi day bookings




  • Vehicle insurance suitable for this tour.
  • All terrain tyres preferred with minimum 60% tread.
  • Hi/low ratio.
  • This tour is suitable for beginner levels of off-road driving experience. However, this tour operates on private sheep station farm tracks and DOC land. As per most backcountry routes this tour has narrow tracks, and tracks at height. Drivers need to be confident driving on back country roads.
  • A full list of vehicle requirements is on our booking form. Contact us for details.
  • Due to hazard identification over hand held radios, clients must be fluent in english.




3 steps for booking


  1. Email us at
  2. We will send you a link to the booking forms. Please read, sign and return. We can collect these on tour day.
  3. Payment options
    1. Online link we will supply - visa, mastercard, eftpos
    2. Direct bank transfer
    3. On the day, visa, mastercard, eftpos or cash





Full day tours depart 8:00 am


Different pickup times can be arranged if necessary.  Pick-ups at local accommodation by prior arrangement.




These trips run from mid October to late April, depending on snow conditions and road conditions.

Please contact us to discuss dates.





Nevis Cemetery

4WD Expeditions Limited

PO Box 1046

Queenstown 9348

New Zealand


From New Zealand

Email :

Freephone : 0800 4WD FUN (493 386)

Cell : 021 244 3920


From Overseas / International

Email :

Phone : + 64 21 244 3920

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