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Otago opera farmer

Thursday, November 2, 2006

The Otago Region is home to some beautiful places — Dunedin, Wanaka, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Omarama, Southern Lakes and North, Central and South Otago.

Central Otago is New Zealand's only place to experience a continental climate — it has the hottest summers and coldest winters.

Old trails which gave thousands of miners access in the 1860s gold rush can still be seen winding over the hills. There are stone cottages, cleverly engineered channels, mines and machinery still there.

Wine is now one of Central Otago's industries and many wineries have tastings in summer months.

Central Otago's rolling, tussock-covered hills and snow-capped ranges featured strongly in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Many battle scenes were filmed in the beautiful high country.

Time Out Tussock Tours runs high country 4WD and horse trekking tours. They take you over clear rivers and streams, high into back country lakes filled with brown trout. You will ride or drive through the Stonehenge Plateau, passing under massive rocky formations, backed by views of Maniototo and Ida Valley.

David McAtamney, your guide, talks about goldmining in the 18th century and you can become involved in mustering cattle and merino sheep with working dogs.

David is a third generation high country farmer and grew up in a very musical family. His parents and six siblings all sang and played musical instruments. While David's hands were a bit large to play piano well, his voice gave him a path to follow, beginning with performing in amateur productions. He has been able to blend singing and farming, and the lessons he began to take in his early thirties paid dividends. Soon he was winning almost every singing competition in New Zealand.

Richard Bonynge heard David's resonant voice and persuaded him to audition with the Australian Opera. He was resident baritone between 1982 and 86 and performed in over thirty operas. He returned to New Zealand and sang with the country's major opera companies, as well as developing an extensive concert repertoire.

When you stop for a musterer's lunch in a mountain hut, David is bound to entertain you as you enjoy a lunch of stew and herb dumplings. Somehow it all seems perfect.

An overnighter is available for two or more people. You stay in a musterer's hut, and all you need is a sleeping bag.


The south of New Zealand's south island.


Time Out Tussock Tours' full-day trek costs around $175 per person. Overnight musterers' experience is $600 per person. All treks include meals. Overnight is restricted to eight people.

Air New Zealand has flights to Dunedin.

One-way fare from;
  • Sydney, $400
  • Melbourne, $405
  • Brisbane, $405
  • Adelaide, $505
  • Perth, $617

Inclusive of taxes and surcharges, which are subject to change at any time.

Prices quoted are correct on November 3, 2006.

More information

Time Out Tussock Tours
Maniototo High Country
Kyeburn-Waipiata Road RD3
Central Otago NZ
Ph: +64 3 444 9010

Air New Zealand
Ph: 132 476

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