A golden offroad Adventure
In 1862, gold was found in a dramatic landscape of ridges and gorges with a mix of burning-hot summers and ice-cold winters. 100 years later, this same region was deserted as gold vanished and resources became scarce. But now, Visitors to this stunning township are invited to step back to the gold rush period, view the buildings the settlers built and the river systems they dug for gold in.
If you’re after a special trip around Queenstown and Wanaka for yourself, your family or partner, this is a great day out. You’re in for…
- Off-road (4WD) driving through the Arrow River
- Gold panning
- Local foods and stories
- A tour through historic Arrowtown
Families love this trip in particular, especially when mum and dad get to sit back and enjoy drinks and lunch, while the kids are busy gold panning and playing in the river. Now that’s an afternoon most Kiwis can get behind.
I have lived in the South Island of New Zealand all my life and am happy to share my stories and experiences with you, including some great spots to visit during your time here. You’ll be safe in my knowledge and experience.
If a local hike around Queenstown and Wanaka tickles your fancy, I also have other adventures you can check out, including a glacial lake and hidden tracks around Arrowtown (head to my profile for more). But for this one, I focus on ‘getting away from it all’, relaxing and unwinding. After all, we need it this year!
Let me show you some very special "off the beaten track" places in our beautiful southern South Island region. Having led tramping and walking trips in this region for over 45 years I have a good understanding of what makes a safe and enjoyable trip. My trips are at a moderate pace and allow ample time for photography and to fully appreciate your surroundings. I am passionate about protecting and enhancing our environment and volunteer with Predator Free Arrowtown, Wilding Conifer Control Group and the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust. I love sharing my passion for our unique landscapes, fauna and flora with visitors to the region. I have a modern, high clearance 4WD vehicle that helps with access to more remote areas and with snowy or icy conditions. My region is a land of contrasts. From the semi-arid tussock and schist rolling hills of Central Otago to the temperate rain forests, incredible towering peaks, glaciers and snowfields, waterfalls and crystal clear rivers of the Southern Alps.
- Worked in Ski Field management
- Worked for NZ Land Search and Rescue; rescued people from the Routeburn track in winter on foot
- Has traveled in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia (including the Tour Du Mont Blanc)
Explore Arrow Gorge
We’ll meet in the morning at basecamp (my house in Arrowtown) or a spot that’s close to your accommodation to discuss what you’d like to do today. I know the Otago region like the back of my compass and have explored almost every single spot and valley in this region. There is a lot to choose from I must tell you, but I’ve narrowed down the best. This includes:
- The best 4×4 tracks and river crossings.
- Private, secluded gold panning locations.
- High views across the valley and gorges.
- Easy but rewarding hikes.
Before we head off, I’ll show you our historic old town, including the local gold and jade shops to grab some unique souvenirs. Then, it’s time to hit the river! My 4×4 can take us deep into the backcountry of our “Wild West”, where I’ll show you the best spots for some gold panning and a traditional Kiwi lunch under the sun and river trees.
One of my favourite trips leads up the local highway in the Arrow Gorge – meaning offroad driving through the Arrow River. This is always an extremely exciting adventure for those who love the idea of taking a full-scale 4WD truck for a swim. We’ll also have a chance here to find spots with no people; in fact, that’s a guarantee.
All tours require the proper gear to ensure you’re having the time of your life, and are well prepared if things go south. It’s the real and rugged New Zealand out there!
750ML Water Bottle
Sunscreen & hat
Top Base layer
Warm hat & gloves (March to October)
Cutlery & cup
Lighter / Matches
Personal First Aid Kit
Warm hiking layer
There are add-on extras for this tour. These are the little things that’ll either make your Adventure easier to organise or more rugged - your choice. You can add these during the booking process.
Gold Panning Lunch
If you fancy homemade snacks that tick all the boxes, then ensure you select this at checkout. All these goodies are made with love by my wife and locally sourced, keeping the whole group energized with big smiles on their faces!+ $10 NZD
Q & A
Your Bushman has added a couple of answers to questions other Visitors have asked in the past to help you with your booking plans. Once you book a tour, you'll be in direct contact with your Bushman for more support.
Will my children enjoy this?
Absolutely! This trip is perfect for families and gold panning is always great entertainment for young and old alike.
However, off-road driving is not safe for babies and toddlers - I am happy for you to bring children older than 6 years that do not need a baby seat.
My kids and I have never done offroad driving before. Is that a problem?
Not at all. I know every trick there is to safely navigate our NZ rivers and 4x4 accessed roads, so you can sit back and enjoy the drive. In my experience, visitors that have never done offroading before usually have the most fun on this trip.
What clothing do I need to bring?
In summer, it’s usually hot and humid around Arrowtown. Breathable clothing and sun protection like a hat and sunscreen will help against the heat and is a must (you will burn out there).
I always recommend bringing a rain jacket for the occasional shower. And don’t forget your towel and togs if you want to take a dip in the river.
Will my gold panning result in any riches?
Let's hope so! Just remember who showed you the golden spot...
Here’s a few answers to the more general questions about the whole journey. You can visit our help and support area for any further information or contact us via the chat function.
What is the refund and cancellation policy?
Bushman Tours sets a standard cancellation policy that can be found via our Terms & Conditions. This is globally set at 48 hours notice. However, Bushmen may add to this depending on the requirements for the Adventure (e.g. - hiring gear and renting equipment on your behalf). The final policy will be located at the bottom of the checkout, or you can reach out to us to check.
What happens if the tour is cancelled due to weather?
In most cases, the Bushman can arrange another day to run your tour, but this also comes down to when you're available if travelling through New Zealand. We recommend ensuring you have insurance for cancellation of any tours. If the Bushman has to cancel due to a health risk, we will call you to arrange another option.
What gear do I need?
Although we have a minimum requirement of gear, you will need the right equipment and gear that is relevant to the Adventure you're booking. This is usually found at the bottom of each tour page, but for our minimum, please visit our FAQs & blog page.
Can I hire gear/equipment?
In some circumstances, your Bushman will have equipment for you to hire. This is available to browse and book through the checkout. We may also have options through our checkout. Although you may be able to borrow gear during the tour, it's important to reserve it now.
What food shall I bring?
Depending on the length, this can vary. Your Bushman will advise on the tour page what is recommended for this particular Adventure, but typically, what we offer at checkout via the add-ons section is what you'll need. Keep it lightweight and nutritious if you buy your own.
Where do I meet my Bushman?
We always try to pick the closest iSite (Visitor Centre) to your Adventure's location. Instructions on precisely where to meet are sent after the booking is made. However, you can also message your Bushman and arrange another location as long as it's close enough to the region.
How much extra is it to add family/friends onto the booking?
If you book and find that more people want to come with you, we can arrange to add them onto the booking (this is dependant on the Bushman's preference to the number of people to take out). The more that book on the original checkout option, the cheaper the fee for each individual - so spread the word before you go to book! Please note, you cannot add or bring extra people 48 hours before the tour starts.
Can I talk to my Bushman before the Adventure?
Absolutely! Once you book, you will be able to login and chat directly to your Bushman through a private, secure chat. Here you can arrange some extras you would like to do, timings for pick up and much more.
Need more help?
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