Naseby Information Centre

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Naseby History

When you wander around the delightful Naseby village, it’s hard to believe it was once home to 4000 miners, 18 stores, 14 hotels, two butchers and a hospital.

Today, there are only 120 permanent residents. But don’t be fooled by Naseby on a quiet day. In the height of summer, the crib (southern for “bach”) owners return and visitors flock to the much-loved township, pushing the population above 4000.

Gold was discovered in the Hogburn by a group of five, led by the Parker Brothers, in May 1863. Within three months, 2000 miners had descended on the Mt Ida goldfield and the Naseby township was born. Soon after, the first gold escort of 4300oz – worth $5.6m in today’s terms – left for Dunedin. By Christmas, the population had doubled to 4000 miners.

By 1878, there was a hospital, three banks, police station, court house, town hall, three churches, a fire brigade, council buildings, a lodge and numerous businesses. It was intended that Naseby would become the centre of the Maniototo. However, in 1898, the construction of the railway line 12km away resulted in Ranfurly springing into existence and services gradually moving away from Naseby.

At the time, the change appeared to signal Naseby’s death knell. But, in fact, it transpired to be the village’s making. Naseby became forgotten and out of sight for many years. Combined with the extraordinary Central Otago climate – hot dry summers and frosty white winters – much of the township’s historic buildings and landmarks remained standing and delightfully original.

The first trees were planted in the early 1880's and the forest remains a significant part of Naseby’s attraction. The township is essentially tucked on the edge of the forest – adding to its romantic quality and the feeling it is a well-kept secret.

The forest, the preserved history, the climate: they all make Naseby the special place it is today.


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Questions or problems regarding this web site should be directed to David Whitaker.
Last modified: 15-12-2009