NEVIS VALLEY TAG ALONG & PRIVATE PASSENGER TOUR
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 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.
From 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 can 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.
HISTORY OF THE NEVIS
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.
Passenger tour price
These prices are for vehicle charter and guide. You will only be with your own group.
Tag Along tour price
We offer discounts off the standard price with the following.
Tours depart 8am or as arranged.
These trips run from mid October to late April, depending on snow conditions and road conditions.
Please contact us to discuss dates.
Nevis Cemetery photo
EARLY NEVIS IMAGES
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.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.Chinese gold miners, and Reverend George Hunter McNeur, by a cob hut at Carrick's Road, Potters Gully, Nevis, Otago, circa 1900. Photographer unidentified.Nevis Hill. Mail CoachNevis Hill. Mail Coach (cropped image)Chinese 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.<>x
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