Naseby's history is like that of many other goldrush towns in Central Otago, full of energy and vigor followed by a shallow decline over the next 150 years. At it's peak over 4,000 people called the town home but by 1986 the permanent population had fallen to barely 100.
Don't be fooled into thinking that such a decline is inevitably linked to decay. Naseby has transitioned beautifully from a town of mud streets and calico huts to a beautiful and charming hamlet 2000ft above stress level.
The town is tucked into a small valley among the foothills of the Mount Ida Range. Now surrounded by forest and pasture, it was a very different place when the Parker brothers (Richard and William) found gold there in 1863 as you can tell from this quote:
"In such a treeless country, timber was of great value. Gin cases were in demand for making cradles, and for one case the miner would give as much as five guineas."
One thing that hasn't changed though is the climate, hot in summer and bracingly cold and dry in winter. It's not for nothing that Naseby has become the home of curling in New Zealand and plays host to the countries only luge and also a mountainbike paradise!
Among the early feats of engineering that the gold boom spawned was the waterrace that a large section of our track follows. In 1877 122km of waterrace and sludge channels were constructed, at the cost of £60,000, to provide water for sluicing operations on the goldfields. Later, the water was diverted into ponding areas to allow large scale dredging operations and a dam was constructed on the Ewe Burn to hold 2,700,000,000L of water. The scars left on the landscape by these activities are still visible today but have been softened and stabalised by the growth of forestry in the area. It's easy to find artifacts of the goldrush era, including many sections of riveted iron pipes.
The settlement once boasted 30 hotels but now has only two - one of which, the Royal, has been the venue for our post race prize giving in the past. What Naseby now has are charming cafes and good food, friendly people and a relaxed atmosphere.
Getting there is easy. It's a comfortable two hours drive from the international airports in Dunedin or Queenstown. The drive itself is enough to make a visit worthwhile.From Dunedin you can head North, via Palmerston and the Pig Root, or South, via Outram and Middlemarch. Nearby are Alexandra, Ranfurly and Oturehua - officially the coldest place in New Zealand. The surrounding area consists of the Maniototo Plains and the ranges and mountains of the Hawkduns, Mt Ida, Rough Ridge, Lammermoors, Rock 'n' Pillars and Kakanuis. Spectacular, quirky and unforgettable.
You can luge here, travel the Central Otago Wine Trail, try your hand at the ancient Scottish art of curling or traverse the famous Otago Rail trail. Come and see for yourself.