With the ever increasing popularity of Central Otago, New Zealand, as a tourist destination, it can be difficult to get off the tourist trail. Whilst old favourites like Queenstown and Wanaka have a lot bto offer, it’s important not to overlook gems hidden in the paths less travelled. One of those gems is Cromwell, a small town with a big heart.
Cromwell had originally been a gold mining town, but since that gold ran out, it’s claim to fame has been its wine and fruit farming – making it an ideal spot for those of you who like a taste of the finer things. However, don’t assume the fun stops there, with tonnes of local adventure sports opportunities, as well as incredible natural views and rich local history to delve into.
Where to stay
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to finding sookmewhere to stay in Cromwell. The Top 10 Holiday Park is a short walk from historical town, and slightly further to the modern town centre. It provides tent sites for $40, or cabins from $90 to share between 4-6 people.
If you prefer something a little more flash, Carrick Lodge Motel is an ideal spot to rest your head. For the ideal location in the centre of the modern town, and the comfortable, spacious rooms, the Carrick Lodge Motel charges $150-190 per night. Considering it recently won Tripadvisor Travellers Choice 2016, you can assume you’re in safe hands.If neither of these tickle your fancy, browse through the dozens of motels and BnBs available – there’s certainly something to suit everyone’s budget and taste!
What to do
Cromwell will leave you spoiled for choice, and has something suit every group of travellers, whether you’re visiting as a couple, a family or independently.
For those of you who enjoy a tipple – you’re in luck! Cromwell is famed for its Pinot Noir and has a number Winery’s accessible by bike or foot. I recommend you pick up a copy of the Central Otago Wine Map, available at the tourist information centre in Cromwell town. This guide will help you to make your way between some of the best local winery’s, but if you’re feeling like a trek then I recommend Mt. Difficulty winery, which not only offers incredible wine and the chance to sample tastings, but also an incredible restaurant with a tantalising menu to match. I can personally recommend the venison which is to die for.
For those of you who prefer a more action packed vacation, you have plenty to keep you occupied. Cromwell is a mountain biker’s paradise, and has enough routes to keep you from ever getting bored. For those of you who are feeling more hardcore, you could tackle a heli-biking tour from $449. As a newbie I opted for a ‘gentle’ route around Lake Dunstan. The views were incredible over the beautiful blue waters of the lake, and the peace and quiet is unrivalled. Don’t be fooled though, you’re going to need plenty of water!
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, check out the Goldfields Jet Boat in Kawarau Gorge. With a maximum speed of 90kmh and 360 degree spins, a ride on one of these is going to be sure to get your blood pumping. They have a 100% safety record! which is unsurprising as New Zealand takes its adventure sports safety seriously. With rides going for $109 per adult, this is a must do!
Finally, if you’re a history and heritage buff, get yourself down to Cromwell Old Town. Placed at the shores of beautiful Lake Dunstan, there’s a ‘micro town’ of realistic reconstructed commercial and residential buildings, and preserved ruins of some of Cromwell’s original town. Now the old ‘bakery’ and ‘post office’, hold art galleries and cafe’s, and the blacksmith combines interactive education with interesting historical models. Cromwell Old Town is also the perfect spot for a peaceful picnic, and perhaps a quick dip off the jetty!
Where to Eat
When it comes to your evening meal, there’s one clear winner. No7 in the town centre offers delicious local cuisine with an extensive hand picked wine list and distinctive craft beers. Run by a friendly, local team, the restaurant offers relaxed dining experience for a reasonable price. No7 is also the perfect spot for an afternoon barista coffee.
For lunch, there’s plenty of tasty, quick options, including a traditional Thai restaurant or of course a standard kiwi ‘fush and chups’. If you’d like a sit down meal, check out Armando’s in the Old Town for yummy pizza and even better wine.
All in all, Cromwell Town is a beautiful spot with so much to offer to all kinds of travellers, so what are you waiting for?