Early travellers on the Dunstan Trail would spend their second night at the Styx hotel in the isolated Paerau Valley, which is south of Patearoa.
The Old Dunstan Road was the shortest route (as the crow flies) from Dunedin to Central. But travellers had to cross four ranges of high, bleak hills (up to 1000m) and deal with large areas of swamp on the plateaus, not to mention the storms and snow in winter. The Great Moss Swamp has now been turned into the Loganburn Reservoir and used for irrigation.
The Paerau valley is notable for its “scroll plain” (rare in New Zealand) – waters draining from the ranges coil across the valley floor in a “serpent-like” pattern, sometimes circling to form small “ox-bow” ponds (billabongs in Australia) – great for fishing/bird watching. This is also a good starting point to explore the Serpentine Diggings.
“Living in the Styx” is a colloquial expression for “remote” – and it is off the beaten track here. You can see the old stone Styx Gaol, which was used as a lock-up for the chests of gold, as well as for law-breakers – chains used to secure them both to the wall can still be seen. The Styx Hotel is also still here, but privately owned. It is said that a gold coin was embedded in the bar – according to Greek legend, the coin was needed to pay the ferryman to take you across the River Styx to the Underworld after you died. There is no “Underworld” here, just great country for 4W driving, mountain biking or fly-fishing.