Experiences Outdoors Queenstown

Safari Historic & Scenic Adventures

Written by Jane Brooke

Nomad Safaris has been the go to company for 4WD adventures exploring Queenstown’s stunning scenery for almost 30 years.

The company also runs scenic trips into the remote backcountry hosts nature walks and  gold panning and for two decades has guided visitors through prime Lord of the Rings country.

“The key to our success is our team of people, including our guides who receive rave reviews as they open the eyes of Kiwi visitors to the heritage and beauty of their own backyard,” says director David Gatward-Ferguson. 

A highlight is a full or half-day guided walk on the Routeburn Track, one of the world’s Top Ten classic hikes. 

“For those who missed out on booking the full track experience in Fiordland National Park, these walks come with awe-inspiring scenery and native wildlife,” he says. “The track weaves through meadows and walkers witness the river roaring through a magnificent gorge, reflective tarns and spectacular beech forest wrapped in ferns, mosses and lichens. Our guides’ passion for the region is evident in their tales of how soaring mountain ranges and valley were formed thousands of years ago and they love to relate the history of early Māori ·and European pioneers, hunters and settlers in the area.”

Nomad Safaris supports local wildlife groups bringing back the birdsong to these outstanding areas and David says if people are lucky they will see birds such as the Mohua (yellowhead) a rare endemic bird, or maybe a cheeky native bush robin flitting through the trees.

“It also takes a sharp-eyed guide to spot New Zealand’s smallest native bird, the Rifleman.”

While there are dozens of local tracks in the Queenstown area high points on the Nomad Safaris itinerary include the Mt Creighton Loop taking in the historic Sam Summers miner’s hut or Arrowtown options such as New Chum, Sawpit Gully or Big Hill tracks. 

“On the other hand If you need a bit more oomph to your scenery or the teenagers are getting bored a blast up Queenstown Hill on one of our all-terrain vehicles blows away the cobwebs,” says David.  

 “The trips start with a full training session and there’s a group guide on hand at all times, so confident over 16’s can self-drive quad bikes on rugged off-road trails while over 12’s ride pillion with a guide. The outstanding vista at the top of the hill is the icing on the cake.”

On the goldmining trail

A Nomad Safaris trip to the goldmining ghost town of Macetown, near Arrowtown, is an exciting adventure, with some rugged 4WD action and about two dozen Arrow River crossings. 

“Our Kiwi and Australian visitors love this trip because they can’t get there themselves and it’s a unique mix of fun and history,” says director David Gatward-Ferguson. 

He says tours into the remote Skippers Canyon are equally popular and guides navigate the once-treacherous road, installed by early pioneers and goldminers. 

“Visitors love to hear the tales about the hardy folk who once populated the area in the search for gold.”

“On the way to Skippers there are dramatic views over the Wakatipu Basin but it’s a rich surprise to cross into a whole other world from there on in,” says David. “The historic Skippers suspension bridge and restored school are heritage features and both the Skippers and Macetown trips include a stop for people to try their hand at gold panning.”

About the author

Jane Brooke