The History of the Cavalcade

Skippers Canyon

In 1991, the First Annual Cavalcade re-traced the historic journey of Cobb & Co. Coach’s journey from Dunedin to the Dunstan Goldfields, via the Dunstan Trail. The Cobb & Co. Coach first left the Provincial Hotel in Dunedin on November 22, 1862. On November 22, 1991, the first Cavalcade left from Rockland’s Station, near Middlemarch, and headed inland for the Dunstan, to end the journey at Cromwell. Over 220 people participated in the inaugural Cavalcade, with 240 horses, a Gold Coach, wagons, carts, gigs and buggies.

The annual cavalcades have been run since 1991 with each having its own spirit and destination. The destination, or host town, changes every year, so that participants have the opportunity to learn more about each host town’s association with Otago’s gold rushes, while enjoying the particular character and party atmosphere that each host town brings to the end of the Cavalcade celebrations.

Walking Trails became part of the Cavalcade in 1994, and are now one of the most popular parts of the Cavalcade, as hearty walkers make their way through the hills, viewing the scenery from a different perspective.

The time of year was changed from the traditional November to late February/early March in 2000 to ensure better horse fitness and weather conditions. Now-a-days the Cavalcade defines what makes Central Otago such a special place, its remoteness is countered by the friendships made on the trail and the warm welcome offered by each host town at trail’s end.