Mt Ida Adventure Tours
Mt Ida Adventure Tours bases its identity on the geographic heart of the Otago Central Rail Trail. We are owner operated and specialise in:
- Small group guided biking and walking tours of the Central Otago Rail Trail
- Tours to off the beaten track locations of Central Otago
- Complete Rail Trail packages for 1-5 day cycling or walking experiences
- Transport services including back-up support while you ride the trail
- Transfers to and from Dunedin Airport and the Taieri Gorge Train at Pukerangi
- Transport of people, bikes and luggage to your required destination
- Half- day tours between 4 and 5 hours with departure time to suit you and pick-up in Middlemarch or anywhere along the Otago Rail Trail
Our tours include plenty of photo stops, use of binoculars, commentary with historical and cultural anecdotes and refreshments. Your driver/guide has a teaching background specialising in geography and has lived in Otago all his life.
Our air-conditioned minibus is equipped with reclining seats, radio/CD with iPod, commentary microphone and luggage/bike trailer. You will travel in comfort.
Off the beaten track locations including historical gold mining towns.
Tours start and finish at Middlemarch OR your chosen Otago Rail Trail locations. They can be planned to be included as part of your Rail Trail package. You can choose to visit one or more of the towns detailed below. Tours vary between half and two day excursions depending on the number and location of towns visited. Maximum party size is eight.
Let us know your requirements and we will provide you with pricing and booking details including pick-up time from your place of departure.
Nenthorn: Sense the remoteness of one of Otago’s most isolated and last established goldfield towns. Gold was obtained from quartz reef mines that required extracting rock and crushing it using stamping batteries. Today all that remains are stone ruins including that of one stamping battery.
Macraes: We can arrange for you to enjoy a two hour guided tour taking you to the Golden Point Historic Reserve where a still operational stamping battery crushed quartz for gold. You also view modern day mining featuring New Zealand’s largest working opencast gold mine. Huge machinery works around the clock, seven days a week.
Cambrian: Experience the peacefulness of this old Welsh gold and coal-mining village located at the foot of the St Bathans Range. Today tiny Cambrian is the home of the renowned Central Otago landscape painter, Grahame Sydney and elderberry wine maker Bob Berry.
St Bathans: Go back in time visiting the historic and picturesque village famous for its Blue Lake and Vulcan Hotel ghost room. In 1864 at the peak of its gold rush there were 2000 people living in the locality. Today there are approximately 9 permanent residents and several historic buildings.
Naseby: Enjoy the exhilaration of mountain biking or walking through Naseby’s forest trails, alongside its water races and around the old gold tailing deposits. Try out the Scottish ice game of curling at Naseby’s international facility. All this is done at '2000ft above worry level.' Naseby is an ideal side-trip for people doing the Rail Trail.
4-Wheel Driving Adventures
These include trips to historic places not easily accessed. These adventures are run between October 1 and April 30. Maximum party size is six.
Adventures start and finish at Middlemarch OR are linked to the arrival and departure times of the Taieri Gorge train at Pukerangi. They can also be planned to be included as part of your Rail Trail package. Brief descriptions of the two adventure options are listed below. Let us know your requirements and we will provide you with pricing and booking details.
The Dunstan Trail and Rock and Pillar Range Adventure During this half- day trip we re-trace the historical route of the Cobb and Company stagecoach that carried food supplies and passengers from Dunedin to the Central Otago Goldfields. The route takes us from Middlemarch, to Clarkes Junction and over the steep, winding section of the Dunstan Trail to Paerau. You will marvel at the vast and remote landscape with expansive views in every direction. Once at Paerau you can elect to enjoy superb trout fishing opportunities or rejoin the Otago Central Rail Trail at Waipiata or Ranfurly.
Mt Buster on the Kakanui Range Adventure This day trip takes you to the old gold workings of one of the highest areas in the Otago goldfields. Mt Buster (1334m) is north of Naseby and is at the junction of the Ida and Kakanui Ranges. As part of this trip we also visit the Kyeburn Diggings and Dansey’s Pass Hotel.
This half day trip takes you to the northern end of the Rock and Pillar Range, above Patearoa, where we visit the vanished township of Hamiltons and its preserved historic cemetery. This gold town was named after Captain Hamilton, on whose sheep run gold was discovered in 1863. At its peak in 1864 , the population had reaches 4000, and the town boasted 25 liquor outlets and 40 stores.
From the cemetery you are able to enjoy superb panoramic views of the Maniototo Plains and the surrounding mountains.