Naseby – ‘A Break from the Lake’

James Jubb Tourism Central Otago
Photo courtesy of James Jubb Tourism Central Otago

Summer in Central Otago’s Lakes District can be fun if you’re feeling super-sociable, but when you want a break from the crowds, nearby Naseby is the place to head for. At just over 600m above sea level, the township of less than 150 permanent inhabitants nestles snugly beneath the Mt Ida Range and enjoys crisp, snowy winters. In summer, however, it’s a different story, and the destination is almost certain to deliver plenty of lazy, sunshine-filled days. Like most Central Otago holiday spots, Naseby’s population does swell over any holiday season, but in this quaint little town, it’s regular cribbies (holiday-home owners) who bring the place to life – and the vibe is super-laid-back.

James Jubb Tourism Central Otago
Photo courtesy of James Jubb Tourism Central Otago

Meander down the main street of Naseby, and you could be forgiven for thinking you are in the Wild West. Thanks to its gold mining past, there are plenty of historic buildings to enjoy, and a museum that will take you back in time to prospecting days. Two fabulously old-time pubs, The Royal and The Ancient Briton (each has its own set of loyal followers) offer accommodation and delicious meals, and the township’s pretty red-brick ex-post office doubles as an information centre and craft centre.

Taking centre stage in popularity is Naseby’s community recreation reserve which sits proudly in the middle of the town in much the same way a village green does in England. It’s here you’ll find tennis courts, a playground for the young ones, cricket matches, and picnicking spots – and all with a backdrop of magnificent giant redwoods reaching up to 45m high.

On Naseby’s doorstep is a significant forest of exotic trees, the first of which were planted in the early 1880s. The forest plays host to 52 kilometres of cycling and walking trails, a swimming dam, several large man-made ponds, and numerous bubbling water races. The forest is very popular with people of all ages, and the canopy of trees offers a pleasant respite from the heat in mid-summer. Bicycles can be hired from the Naseby Holiday Park and from Big Sky Adventures which operates out of Naseby. The latter also offers pick-ups and drop-offs if you want to explore the nearby Central Otago Rail Trail.

Mike Blewitt Tourism Central Otago
Photo courtesy of Mike Blewitt Tourism Central Otago

If you want to see more of the region’s stunning scenery, Maniototo4WD Safaris and Tours will take you to the skyline or for a tiki tour around gold prospecting relics. And for some real excitement, ask the crew about their self-drive 4×4 vehicles and a challenging trip which can be taken within the safety and support of other off-road vehicles.

To cool off in summer, the place to be is the family-friendly year-round indoor Naseby Curling Rink. The traditional Scottish sport of curling is confined to just a handful of places in New Zealand, so don your hat and gloves and test out the granite stones at this not-to-be-missed destination.

In winter the township receives regular dumps of snow. John Noonan
In winter the township receives regular dumps of snow. Photo courtesy John Noonan.

Those who have little ones in tow, or are dog-lovers themselves, will enjoy a visit to Real Dog Company in nearby Ranfurly. The establishment offers summer tours of their kennels which house Alaskan Malamutes, Canadian Eskimo Dogs, Siberian Huskies, and a Kelpie-Collie cross. Informative and hands-on, the tour allows you to get up close to these hard-working animals which take visitors to the region on snowy excursions over winter.

For something completely different, sign up for some serious star gazing with Naseby Night Sky Tours. The township is in the process of applying to be a ‘dark sky reserve’ so the viewing can only get better!

Who would ever guess such a small town could offer so much! Now that you know, don’t spread the word too quickly!