WAIKAIA BUSH ROAD
GUIDED SELF DRIVE & PASSENGER TOURS
This full day expedition provides an opportunity to explore the Waikaia Bush Road, a fairly rugged 4WD track requiring a reasonable amount of off road experience to safely traverse. From the serene Waikaia river, lush beech forest, tussock plateaus, gold mining and massive rock tor covered scenery, this road provides access to the beautiful Umbrella and Old Man Ranges.
This is a big day.
From Queenstown we head west through the Kawarau Gorge to historic Bannockburn. From Bannockburn we start climbing steeply to 1280m on the Duffers Saddle Road, providing commanding views over Lake Dunstan and Cromwell. This area has an average annual temperature close to zero degrees Celsius. As a result the ranges are dotted with distinctive schist rock tors and bisected by fields of freeze-thaw hummocks and mounds, creating a wave-like effect across the slopes and basins.
We negotiate the old gold mining tracks and trails traversing the Old Woman and Old Man Ranges which run from north-west to south- east, creating a rain shadow that blocks and absorbs southerly fronts, making Central Otago New Zealand’s driest area. Attaining the height of 1740m we start travelling through the Kopuwai Conservation area, with stunning Central Otago vistas on our left, and the Nevis Valley and Hector Mountains on our right.
Unlike our Kopuwai tour which exits via the Obelisk Rock, this tour proceeds onto the Waikaia Bush Road, Piano flat and Waikaia. Once we hit the ridge the countryside has commanding views over the Garvie and Umbrella mountains. Rock tors are a common feature in this landscape adding to the dramatic views.
There is a rock step section that requires vehicles have good entry and exit departure angles (vehicles with low overhanging front or rear bumpers and tow-bars are not suitable for this trip).
From the ridgeline we descend via a zigzag track down through stunning beech forest at Piano Flat beside the Waikaia River and onto Waikaia township, Lumsden and back to Queenstown.
Due to safety with conditions, if it is wet or raining at Piano Flat we will not attempt the zigzag track section before Piano Flat. Instead we will exit as per our Kopuwai tour at the Obelisk and Central Otago.
The first visitors were Māori hunting moa on the tussocklands of the Garvie Mountains and Old Man Range. As a results of gold discoveries further up the valley in 1862, a rambunctious town known then as Switzers grew complete with hotels, dancing halls and gambling dens. The last productive claim was King Solomon’s Mine, which closed in 1937. A rail line operated from 1909 to 1959.
Article about the Waikaia Bush Road
TUAPEKA TIMES, VOLUME VIII, ISSUE 437, 24 FEBRUARY 1875
FULL DAY - PRIVATE
ADULTS 2 Adults 3 Adults 4 Adults Child PRICE $495pp $395pp $335pp $55
These prices are for private vehicle charter and guide.
GUIDED SELF DRIVE TOUR
We offer discounts off the standard price with the following.
SELF DRIVE REQUIREMENTS
SELF DRIVE BOOKING
3 steps for booking
Full day tours depart 7:30 am
These trips run from mid December to mid April, depending on snow conditions.
Please contact us to discuss dates.
click on image to view
Gold mine sited near Waikaia / Switzers MuseumChinese on the Otago goldfields / Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of OtagoChinese at work near Winding Creek, Waikaia / Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of OtagoA dredging operation, 1890s / Toitu Otago Settlers Museum The original Switzers, 1867 / Otago Witness The Otago GoldfieldsChinese Miners at Muddy Creek, Waikaia / Toitu Otago Settlers Museum Miners on a claim / Toitu Otago Settlers Museum The Rev. Don at a Chinese house near Waikaia / Toitu Otago settlers Muse umChinese Village, Waikaia / Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago A sluice at Switzers Claim. Five men stand on either side of the stream of water.The image above of a notice in Chinese characters from a 19th-century gambling house in Switzers (Waikaia), Southland, sets out rules for gambling. The text, translated into English, reads: A notice announcing to people that:, Gold rings will be taken by weight, If you pawn your ring you have one month to redeem it, One ounce of gold is worth 90 shillings, You cannot pawn your suit or watch, You must follow these rules, You can compare these rules with other places, these are considered fair rules. Dated the 21st day of the 9th month .<>1 - 12x
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