Rail Trail at Lauder Station
Poolburn tunnel on the
Otago Central Rail Trail
a short ride from Big Sky Cottage
Easter bunnies on the
Otago Central Rail Trail at Lauder
Manuherekia Bridge on the
Otago Central Rail Trail
10 minutes ride from Big Sky Cottage
Blue Lake at St Bathans
Ida Valley on a frosty
Wedderburn rail shed as painted by Graham Sydney in 1975
Mining relic at St Bathans
Blue Lake St Bathans
Golden Progress Mine
What To Do
Big Sky Cottage is an ideal base for an active or a wonderfully
If you are here for the Otago Central Rail Trail the trail
is right outside the door.
If you are not here to conquer the Rail Trail, pass your days
on the cool veranda in summer or by the roaring log fire in
winter with a good book and a glass of local Otago wine. Enoy
the peace and tranquility as you watch the rail trailers go
Big Sky Cottage is situated overlooking the
Otago Central Rail Trail at Lauder on one of the most interesting
sections of the trail.
The Manuherekia Bridge is only a 10 minute
ride or 25 minute walk from Big Sky Cottage. The Poolburn Gorge
and tunnels are only a short ride beyond the bridge and take
you through to the magnificent, sweeping Ida Valley.
See the following links for more details of the
In this part of the country an excursion can take a couple
of hours or all day. Outings for relaxing days include:
St Bathans is one of the most delightful historic gold towns
in New Zealand and just a short drive from Lauder.
Nestled between Mount St Bathans, the Hawkdun Range and St
Bathans Downs you will find the stunning Blue Lake, the village
of charming mud brick and stone houses, and the inviting historic
Walk around the Blue Lake and marvel at the stunning colour
of the water and the varied hues and patterns of the sands and
soils, caused by the mineral deposits left over from mining.
It is hard to believe that this was once a bustling, noisy
town of 2,000 people and 13 hotels. The guide book says there
is now a population of 5 people. Jude and Mike, the hosts at
the Vulcan Hotel, reliably inform us that the guide book is
incorrect and that the population is actually 7!
Turn left onto SH 85 (the Pig Route) from Big Sky Cottage and
take a drive through the magnificent ‘big sky country’
of the Maniototo, immortalised by the paintings of Graham
Discover the vastness of the land and the even greater vastness
of the sky. Visit the quaint settlements and towns along the
Naseby has historic
buildings, a museum, gold mining history, an internationally
famous indoor curling rink, and numerous relaxing walks
and mountain bike trails in the surrounding forests
Ranfurly, renowned as
the art deco capital of the South Island, with numerous examples
of art deco architecture and some fascinating stores with
a large range of deco collectibles from glass lamp shades
Central Otago is steeped in history with much of the early
settlment based on the mining of gold. There are numerous fascinating
historic sites within easy reach of Big Sky Cottage and there
are books, pamphlets and maps in the cottage with information
about the goldfields and walks in the surrounding area.
Matakanui and Drybread - turn right out of
the gate of Big Sky Cottage onto Matakanui Lauder Road. The
tarred road turns to gravel within 100 metres but is easily
drivable in 2WD. Follow the signs to the historic mining villages
of Matakanui and Drybread where you will find historic buildings
from the mining era and the fascinating cemetary at Drybread.
Golden Progress Mine Oturehua,
Ida Valley (open November to August) - a short
drive from the cottage through the beautiful Ida Valley. Still
standing above the mine shaft you will find the only surviving
poppet mine shaft head in Otago. This shaft head was used to
winch the gold ore up the 61m deep mine shaft. Make sure you
stop at Gilchrist's store in Oturehua on the way.
Take a look at www.nzsouth.co.nz/goldfields/maniototo.html
for more information on the history of the gold fields and historic
mine sites to visit in the district around Lauder.
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