As gold fever swept through Otago in the early 1860s, prospectors fanned out, clawing their way up every creek and gully in search of a flash in the pan. In 1862, alluvial gold was found at Twelve Mile, sparking the rush to what later became known as Macetown, now a ghost town and a popular destination for mountain bikers, horse trekkers and trampers.

Macetown’s story is one of boom and bust. At its peak, it boasted a couple of hotels, a post office and a school, but when the gold ran out, it couldn’t fall back on farming in the way that Arrowtown and Queenstown did and, like Skippers, it died. All that remains of the town are a couple of stone buildings – the restored schoolmaster’s house and the bakery – and a smattering of wooden shacks. The surrounding creeks and gullies are littered with the twisted and rusting remains of gold batteries, making a fruitful hunting ground for industrial archeology fans

On first acquaintance, it isn’t massively exciting, but the grassy plateau makes a great camping spot. Indeed, arriving for a couple of days with a tent and provisions is the best way to experience Macetown’s unique atmosphere.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

New Zealand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

How to find the right New Zealand for you

How to find the right New Zealand for you

While it may not loom large on the world map, New Zealand feels incredibly vast and imposing on the ground, especially to those who try to visit the North and S…

23 May 2016 • Eric Grossman insert_drive_file Article
Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

Everything you need to know about backpacking New Zealand

New Zealand’s craggy coastline and beautiful national parks are dotted with wildlife and beg to be explored. The scenery gets more spectacular around every co…

07 Mar 2016 • Rachel Mills insert_drive_file Article
Video: the world's friendliest cities

Video: the world's friendliest cities

Which cities are going to welcome you with open arms? Where will the locals be likely to buy you a beer, and who's going to invite you in for tea when it's cold…

10 Oct 2014 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month