Follow the miners’ old wagon trail and explore the historic gold mining town of Macetown. Long since abandoned after the gold rush, Macetown has now been transformed into a Department of Conservation reserve. Experience the narrow, rugged road in safety with a Nomad Safaris tour.
Macetown road has a major slip and the platform has suffered significant damage. Currently there is no known repair timescale. The road is only open as far as (just before) Brakens Gully. As soon as we have further information we will update on our website.
A true 4×4 off road adventure which explores the historic gold mining town of Macetown. Long since abandoned after the gold rush Macetown has now been transformed into a Department of Conservation reserve. Ride the rugged road in the safety of our 4×4 that ensures excitement and adventure crossing the Arrow River some 25 times each way. Immerse yourself in the history of this precious region by panning for gold and letting our knowledgeable guides teach you about the hardship and exhilaration these miners faced.
The Macetown 4WD tour departs from Queenstown heading out to Arrowtown. Once in Arrowtown you will be shown the historic Chinese Settlers Village and the filming location of the Ford of Bruinen in the Lord of the Rings.
En route to Macetown you cross the Arrow River some 25 times before reaching Macetown. On the Macetown track you will pass through Soho Creek and Britannia Terrace. Both locations provide landmarks and insightful stories into the history of this interesting area.
Upon arrival in Macetown you will be taken to the heritage site of Smith’s Bakehouse, which has recently been restored by the Department of Conservation. Explore the gold mining settlement and learn the history of Needham’s Cottage. Not far beyond Macetown is Anderson’s Battery. Learn about the only stamping battery with an iron frame in Otago.
Leaving Anderson’s Battery you will start making your way back to Arrowtown along the Macetown Track. Try your hand at gold panning on the Arrow River as our guides teach you the techniques to pan for gold and feel the excitement that drew many people to this area.
At Macetown experience true off road driving as our experienced guides show you what these 4x4s can do. But rest assured with one of the founding members of Tread Lightly! NZ you will be with one of the most responsible 4WD tours around. This off road adventure really puts the 4x4s through their paces making it so much more than other heritage tours.
What is at the end of the road?
These trips journey into the past along high and narrow roads hacked into the sheer cliffs and visit abandoned gold mining towns that were once bustling with miners. You have the chance to explore renovated buildings and old mining equipment.
How much off road driving is there?
Up to 50 crossings of the Arrow River ensures the journey to Macetown is a true off-road experience.
Will we go gold panning?
You will stop at a suitable place on the river where, before giving you your own gold pan, the driver will demonstrate the techniques used by the early prospectors. Small flakes of gold can still be found.
Do you provide refreshments?
Hot drinks, biscuits and cakes are provided. You are welcome to bring your own cold water.
Is any walking involved?
Not a lot of walking is required. Some of it may be on uneven ground but it is not necessary to get out of the vehicle.
How long are the trips?
4 ½ hours to Macetown.
Type of vehicle?
The Macetown road is the domain of the Land Rover Defender.
“Macetown magic, flowers and fun!”
What a great trip! Doing this early summer meant the lupins were in full bloom and made for a spectacular display to add the the stunning scenery and very interesting history. Good weather added to the overall experience, along with a very knowledgeable driver giving us the history of the places as we went along. Morning tea at the Stamping Battery (far end of Macetown) then retraced our steps and back to Arrowtown in time for lunch. Just on 4 hours return from Arrowtown, and be prepared for a bumpy ride in places that’ll put a grin on your face – perfect in the context of the location. All in all a great trip & great experience!!
–Gerard H, Dunedin, New Zealand
“Stunning trip to a piece of NZ history”
We took the four wheel drive trip to the abandoned mining settlement of Macetown. Our guide Santiago was passionate about the history and landscape and a most engaging host. This is an awesome trip which traverses the Arrow river over 25 times to get to the long abandoned mining settlement. Thrills, landscapes that make your jaw drop and a sense of wonder at the history of this place. Worth every cent.
– Catherine G, Auckland, New Zealand
Our guide Jenny took us to Macetown. She did a great job and the ride was exilerating. We all had a turn panning for gold but no luck unfortunately. I loved the trip it was fun and interesting. Jenny is a great driver!
– Rachel M, Auckland, New Zealand