Once again Callum Wood takes us deep into one of the most rugged and beautiful areas the south has to offer. This time it didn't take much convincing to get Conor Macfarlane - one of our countries top MTB riders - along for the ride. Together they head out to tear the Nevis Valley to shreds and fill us in on what has to be one of New Zealand's best & most beautifully rugged spots to camp & ride.
Here's what Callum has to say:
"Driving into the Nevis Valley is like stepping back in time, giving you an insight into the history of the gold mining boom of the 1800’s. Stretching from Bannock Burn to Garston this valley offers some of Central Otago’s finest high country. The highest point, Carrick range, is what I imagine arriving on the Moon would resemble, the dry and rocky landscape is strewn with towering rock formations.
The area is iconic of central Otago as the hills are covered in tussocks, Spaniards and Matagouri. Once the sun starts its journey towards the horizon this fluid landscape really goes off, the tussocks light up with an amazing golden glow, the hills look as if they are running in liquid gold.
Descending into the valley you will find yourself sandwiched between the mighty Remarkables Mountain range and the Old Woman range as you join with the Nevis River. Some time must be taken hear to stop and appreciate the amazing views from Duffers Saddle looking over Cromwell all the way to the Remarkables.
Once gold had been discovered in the area the news spread like wild fire and the prospectors soon arrived to claim their stake on the land. In a short amount of time the Nevis quickly became a place of booming business. The history of this place has left many relics to discover and the shear remoteness has meant that many still stand.
The treasures include the likes of cemetery’s and dwellings, wool sheds and the first of the ski huts. The truck can only get you so far so getting out on foot is a must to really find some hidden secrets, but remember this is an exposed environment so make sure to pack a variety of clothing!
Travelling with the Crows Nest made exploring the Nevis easier than ever, with the ability to have camp set up in seconds when the weather turns, which it does and does quick! Being a backcountry road with numerous fords its always key to make sure your vehicle of choice is running well and you have the basics to fix what ever may happen, travelling with another is also a wise choice as help is a long way off…
I managed to get one of New Zealand’s top MTB athletes, Conor Macfarlane, to join me for the drive in his 70 series Land Cruiser. Packing up for the weekend with tools, bikes, food and the Crows Nest we headed in to the valley to find some gold of our own.
The boom, combined with wild weather, has carved the landscape into some unique shapes providing us with the perfect play ground, from the dredge ponds to the tailings there was no shortage of blank canvas, all we needed to do was pull out the tools… Conor has a standout eye when it comes to building, seeing things many others just wouldn’t. Combined with this crazy landscape it left us with an awesome playground to build some very different features, from wall rides to step downs.
After a day of driving and digging, the simple ease of the Crow's Nest was a welcomed one at that, especially when the weather turned. Tools down, tent out and food on the boil has never been better! Despite the sudden shift in the weather we still managed to come away with some decent shots, but a trip back in once the winter is out is defiantly on the cards!"
Photos & Words: Callum Wood
Riding: Conor Macfarlane