His cattle run was at best very heavy bush country, and his sole income came from selling his cattle in Invercargill, a blistering four-month, 175-mile cattle drive away. The holding never made money, and soon became deer infested. Against the harshest conditions of this difficult country, the isolation and the financial Depression he wrestled to make a living from his largely wild cattle. With the runs on a year-to-year lease, Davey was soon close to bankruptcy.
One of the Grandfathers of New Zealand Tourism
Davey was no businessman, and money meant little to him, he was a stubborn and difficult fella to work with. He lived very frugally, calling the Hollyford 'The Land of Doing Without', and had little time for 'modern inconveniences'. He was, however a superb bushman and cut tracks along his valley run to get access to the river flats, connecting them by a chain of huts along his isolated run. So to supplement his income in 1936, Davey opened up and shared the land he loved, unwittingly pioneering guided hiking and horse riding trips in the Hollyford and Pyke Valleys.
Then on the 30th December 1936 the ill-fated Fox Moth, cabin plane crashed leading to Davys Gunn being awarded King George VI's Coronation Medal. ‘The Legend was Born’ and no doubt this honor helped his fledgling tourism business. Friendly and hospitable by nature, and possessing considerable personal charm his endeavor grew employing guides help him cope with the ever-increasing numbers. Davey became a well-known and popular figure, respected for his energy, bushcraft and his knowledge of this remote area. He communicating his own enthusiasm to a generation of trampers. A memorial plaque near the junction of the Pyke and Hollyford rivers bears an inscription that aptly concludes 'all who passed this way knew him as "Davey, the Tramper's Friend".'