North & South - - Directory -

For­got­ten World Ad­ven­tures of­fers the best way to see the raw beauty and his­tory of New Zealand. Their two­day tour, The Ex­pe­di­tion, is a three-part jour­ney that will have you rid­ing to the Repub­lic of Whangamomona in a cus­tombuilt rail cart through 20 tun­nels and gor­geous coun­try­side. The next day, you’ll en­joy a spec­tac­u­lar he­li­copter flight over the Whanganui Na­tional Park to the iconic Bridge to Nowhere, fol­lowed by a jet­boat ride on the Whanganui River, ex­plor­ing his­tor­i­cal sites and re­mote land­scapes on the long­est com­mer­cial jet-boat tour in the Southern Hemi­sphere.

North & South has two trips on The Ex­pe­di­tion with For­got­ten World Ad­ven­tures to give away. Each prizewin­ner will re­ceive a two-day ad­ven­ture pack­age for two that in­cludes an 80km jour­ney on a rail cart, a 25km he­li­copter ride and a 110km jet-boat ride on the Whanganui River. The trip in­cludes din­ner, break­fast, lunch, morn­ing and af­ter­noon teas, and a night’s ac­com­mo­da­tion at the Whangamomona Ho­tel. Win­ners must make their own way to Tau­marunui.


Sim­ply visit En­ter your name, ad­dress and con­tact de­tails – and you’re in the draw to win a trip for two on The Ex­pe­di­tion, a For­got­ten World Ad­ven­tures tour.

Cen­tral Otago’s wide blue skies, crimped moun­tain ranges and tawny plains are a pal­ette apart from the rest of our rel­a­tively green isles. When early Maori burned off the forests, the in­land re­gion’s dry cli­mate halted re­gen­er­a­tion, and tus­sock took over the mas­sive swathe of gold-bear­ing schist.

Across these grand, art-in­spir­ing land­scapes, hu­man set­tle­ments re­sem­ble oases, their stone­fruit or­chards, vine­yards and po­plar shel­ters pop­ping out along­side the weath­ered tors. To­day, around 18,500 lo­cals have fol­lowed the foot­steps of the hardy pi­o­neers who, in the 1860s, were lured here with the prom­ise of gold.

A mul­ti­tude of min­ers’ relics and ru­ins re­main: the head­stone on an anony­mous grave at Millers Flat that reads, “Some­body’s dar­ling lies buried here”; Alexan­dra’s aptly named Shaky Bridge, an 1879 sus­pen­sion bridge that’s still open, if only to foot traf­fic; the sun­dried mud-brick of St Bathans’ old build­ings, which date back to the 1880s. The Blue Lake, be­low the tiny vil­lage at St Bathans, was once the deep­est min­ing hole in the Southern Hemi­sphere; when min­ing stopped, it filled with wa­ter, which took its colour from the min­eral con­tent of the sur­round­ing moon­scape cliffs.

Gold has since been usurped by pinot noir; cel­lar doors have opened across the re­gion, invit­ing you to taste for your­self the vint­ners’ luck. The oth­er­wise-fickle grape va­ri­ety thrives on the free-drain­ing soils and the dry, con­ti­nen­tal cli­mate, which sees sum­mer tem­per­a­tures sur­pass Auck­land’s, some 1000km north. Win­ters are an­other story: the coun­try’s low­est tem­per­a­ture, an icy -25.6°C, was recorded in the Cen­tral Otago town of Ran­furly in July 1903.

The re­gion’s other claim to fame is the Otago Cen­tral Rail Trail. The 152km horse­shoe-shaped track be­tween Clyde and Mid­dle­march is a dream, with its car-free grad­ual in­clines, his­toric lodg­ings and lively cafes and eater­ies. If you want to keep bik­ing, or if you’re pressed for time, try the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, a one-day ad­ven­ture fol­low­ing the Clutha River through a hid­den gorge from Alexan­dra to the Roxburgh hy­dro dam; you can add a jaunt on a jet boat. There’s also the Clutha Gold Trail, a two-day trip that picks up where the Roxburgh Gorge Trail ends, con­tin­u­ing on to Lawrence.

Lo­cal set­tle­ments – some lit­tle more than a petrol sta­tion and a lost-in-time pub – have a charm of their own. In towns like Alexan­dra and Naseby, curl­ing, ice skat­ing and luge­ing are pop­u­lar pas­times, not nov­elty sports. Ran­furly is New Zealand’s other art- deco cap­i­tal. Many shops and homes were re­built dur­ing the 1930s after a series of sus­pi­cious fires; the former milk bar now houses an art- deco mu­seum, and there’s an an­nual art- deco fes­ti­val.

You can also fish for trout, or hike the hills around Roxburgh where, 151 years ago, Joseph Tam­blyn first planted the Roxburgh Red apri­cot after buy­ing a few fruit trees from a pass­ing swag­man.

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