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A family biking holiday in the Central Otago town – Naseby

By Jo 1 year agoNo Comments

Naseby was once a gold mining town servicing 4000 miners, now it is home to 120 permanent residents. However, this quiet Central Otago town comes alive in the summer as families come to their baches and the campground fills up. Kiwis come to enjoy the simple summer lifestyle, a lifestyle that is reflected in the Naseby town tagline – Naseby ‘2000ft above worry level’ and there is one item they certainly don’t forget to bring – their bicycle.

Naesby town sign and tagline goRide

Naseby Town Tagline

Old building Naseby

Settled in 1863 Naseby has many historic sites and buildings

What does Naseby have to offer as a biking holiday destination?
Naseby Forest – Mountain Biking Trails

A network of trails from beginner to experienced. The trails weave there way through the privately owned Naseby Forest. With the campground and the safe swimming dam on its doorstep the trails were enjoyed by groups of kids, families, couples and friends. Plenty of day trippers also come to Naseby to explore the trails.

The best thing to do is turn up and go explore trails that suit your technical and fitness requirements. There is something for everyone. Best enjoyed if you are wanting an area of trails to pop in and ride for 1/2 hour through to a few hours.

I want to give mention to the family favourite – the Mount Ida water race that winds its way along the stunning Hawkdun Range. This has achievable terrain for all and is always great no matter what the weather. Built back in 1873, this wonderful engineering feat was used for sluicing gold and now provides much needed irrigation for local farmers and tracing its path is enjoyed by many riders.

Before you get going you do need to check to see if the forest is open. If there is logging or the risk of fire is high, the forest will be closed.

Dansey Pass

This one is for enthusiastic riders. A 26km (oneway) often narrow and windy road initially sealed but quickly turning to gravel to the top of Dansey Pass (935m) . The pass provides a link between the Waitaki Valley and Central Otago (the road offering entry to this area from the north for early gold mining traffic).  It is a well graded climb through high country farmland covered in outcrops of schist and tussock covered hills.

The road is reasonably remote but it is used by those that farm this land and through peak times by travelers. I choose an early morning ride to bet the traffic and any wind. A few vehicles passed me on my journey and I did have a compulsory rest as I shared the road with sheep being moved between paddocks.

Along the route there is the treat of Dansey Pass Coach Inn (about 20km) from Naseby. Built in 1862 and as with many things built in this time…there is a story to tell, and what a great place to enjoy that story.


The Top of Dansey Pass


Some oncoming traffic

Central Otago Rail Trail.  Day trip – Multiple Day Trip

Naseby (though about 9km off the Rail Trail) is quite central along the Otago Rail Trail so really any part of the trail is only a short drive away. Both Middlemarch and Clyde, the start and finish of the trail (depending on the direction you ride), are both about an hours drive from Naseby. All of the Rail Trail is family friendly and because the trail is well serviced really it is about working out what your family wants and are capable of doing. There are some great day trip options to be had, or you could do some multi days. Our family favourite, for a day trip, is the Poolburn Gorge so we suggest this should be on any day trip that you do. Read through some further information here to help your family plan some riding on the Otago Rail Trail.

Riding up to Poolburn gorge

Helping each other as we ride towards the gorge


Riding across the bridge

Poolburn gorge

About to head through one of the 2 tunnels in the gorge

Bike around the town of Naseby

OK it is not going to take you very long but there are plenty of historic sites and buildings to enjoy. Information on the town and its heritage can be obtained from the volunteer run Information Centre.  Stops could include:

  • one of the historic hotels
  • the very much enjoyed cafe – there is always plenty of bicycles lined up outside
  • the domain to join in with the kids cricket games that frequently take place
  • the playground and tennis courts
  • many historic buildings
  • the curling rink

The kids will just choose to bike, to go explore, to get around. The slow pace makes it a pretty safe place to bike.

It is a different experience to some of the other busier Central Otago towns. But an experience that should be treasured, one that can be enjoyed by the family and you definitely need to bring your bikes!

get Inspired and goRide –  The Central Otago town of Naseby – a family biking holiday.

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