The following is a suggested “Mix & Match” week-long visitor programme for discovering the Cromwell district. Note that it is recommended you obtain three brochures from the Information Centre before you venture out. Firstly, ‘Central Otago Wine Map – a Guide to Wineries & Vineyards’. This map describes all local wineries and vineyards as well as their locations and opening hours. Because the wineries are too numerous to list them all on the following guide, ( see Wineries link) you should refer to the map. The other essential brochures to keep in your vehicle are ‘Discover Cromwell’ and ‘Walk Cromwell’.
Walk around the Mall, check out the shops, and visit Cromwell Information Centre/Museum (free entry with donation for Museum). Plan the week’s holiday and obtain all your free brochures and maps of the district, and book your travel or other activities for Queenstown or Wanaka if you are heading in those directions. Lunch in the Mall – choose between a large range of food outlets including Asian – or be more adventurous and drive northwards out along State Highway 8B and across the Deadman’s Point Bridge.
Drive north along State Highway 8 and turn right at Northburn Station Road and visit ‘The Shed’ to taste some local cuisine and wine. Back on the highway, continue onto Bendigo stopping at Rocky Point Pottery & Country Shop. View vineyard developments along Bendigo Loop Road and study the DOC information kiosk at the original Bendigo township site. Then drive up to the Bendigo Historic Area (rough/steep track in places) stopping at Logantown and Welshtown. Walk carefully around mine shafts and old stone buildings. Travel back down the hill, further around Bendigo Loop Road, back to the highway, and then onto Tarras Village, at the base of the Lindis Pass, for retail therapy, hot drink or ice cream. Don’t forget to visit the House of Shrek – the world’s most famous sheep.
Old Cromwell Town
Visit Old Cromwell Town, and walk around the Lake Dunstan foreshore. Have a cuppa or sandwiches at the Grain & Seed Café or lunch at the historic Victoria Arms Hotel. Investigate the interesting shops that now house various artists and artisans. Visit the Cromwell Swim Centre and take the family for a swim – or, if you are feeling really fit, drop into NRG fitness centre next door to the pools. Look around Anderson Park – home of the Central Otago Sports Turf, and the Rose Gardens that include Australasia’s largest sundial. Visit the Cromwell Golf Club on Neplusultra Street and take in as many holes as time permits.
Head north on State Highway 6 towards Wanaka. Visit Jackson Orchards pack house; drive around Burn Cottage Road – the loop road to Lowburn and on the way to Wanaka. Call into
Pisa Moorings and Wakefield Bay residential areas, and check out Perriam Cove Café, amusement park and residential-accommodation marina development. Continue on State Highway 6 and pass through expansive vineyard territory and, at Queensberry, drop into The Lazy Dog at Gladsmuir Road for a relaxed dining and wine tasting experience. Continue onto Wanaka, check out the i-Site on the waterfront, and look around shops and new subdivisions. Drive out to Glendhu Bay and on return check out Wanaka’s Puzzling World; Toy Museum and ‘Have a Shot’, before heading back to Cromwell via Lake Hawea and State highway 8A.
Drive out to McNulty Inlet and view Rotary Glen, the Cromwell College Aquatic Centre (where holiday programmes are run for kids to learn sailing, windsurfing and rowing); and the Lake Dunstan Boat Club. Visit the Freeway Orchard Complex on State Highway 8B that comprises The Cider House Café & Bar, Prenzel in the Alps (for tastings and gifts), Provisions and Freeway Orchard’s orchard-fresh fruit and ice creams.
Continue toward Clyde on State Highway 8 via the $100 million Cromwell Gorge Highway that was reconstructed as part of the Clyde Dam project. Stop at Jackson Lookout and take the walking track to Cromwell’s Old Reservoir (the views are worth it!); then stop at the Hartley-Reilly Memorial at Brewery Creek at the entranceway to the gorge. Further on, view the construction of the Cairnmuir Slide project, and stop at the Clyde Dam viewing area. Walk over the dam. Lunch at Clyde restaurants such as the Post Office, or Blues Café – or continue onto Alexandra passing the northern terminus of the Otago Central Tail Trail.
Drive back to Cromwell and spend time walking or mountain biking around the unique greenway system; or drive around the old part of Cromwell looking at stone buildings, the Litany Street Cemetery, and various stone churches. For the really adventurous family, book into Paintball Central, located on Bannockburn Road adjacent to the Council Refuse Station.
Drive out to Bannockburn and check out the “Heart of the Desert” sign located at the bridge over the Kawarau Arm of Lake Dunstan. If you are seeking to experience Bannockburn wine and hospitality, you can head in two directions at the bridge - either to Cairnmuir Road; or to Felton Road and the remainder of the Bannockburn township. Refer to your ‘Wine Map’ to plan your itinerary. There are various tasting rooms along Cairnmuir Road including Carrick which includes a restaurant, where reservations are recommended. At Felton Road, there are also numerous tasting rooms including Mt Difficulty, which has cellar door and lunch restaurant, where reservations are essential.
Also along Felton Road is the DOC Bannockburn Sluicings Reserve. From the well-signposted car park, take the self-guided walking track around the reserve and reach the ruins of Stewart Town – but beware of hot weather in summer and ensure you have adequate water supplies and sun protection. A guided tour is available by asking at the Cromwell Information Centre. Lunch is also available at the Bannockburn Hotel restaurant and garden bar where you can look at the various historic photographs of the previous gold-mining era.
Continue the drive into Bannockburn viewing the Bannockburn Post Office and, along Hall Road, the stone Church and Hall. Back along Bannockburn Road, continue south into the Nevis
Valley and sight the Carrick Woolshed on the way. The 26km metalled road winds up and over the Carrick Range with the highest point at Duffers Saddle, 1300 metres (the highest public road in the country) and reaches the Nevis River and bridge. Explore the Nevis Valley where information panels describe the main historic items, and for those with 4WD’s, there is an opportunity to continue onto Garston (80km) in the summer months and crossing some 25 fords and river-crossings.
Roaring Meg power station
Drive along State Highway 6 to Queenstown and visit ‘A Drop of Red’ café; or visit Sarita Orchard; or Jones Family Fruit Stall where fresh fruit ice creams, rose gardens and orchard tours are available. Continue on and reach Goldfields Mining Centre at the entrance to the Kawarau Gorge and discover past methods of gold mining and irrigation. Pan for gold, view the Gold Gallery, relax at ‘The Sluicings. Food & Wine’ café, and take a jet boat ride up the Kawarau River and Lake Dunstan with Goldfields Jet. Further into the gorge, stop at the Roaring Meg DOC reserve and view the small hydro power station. Continue along State Highway 6 to Arrowtown, and then onto Queenstown. On the way look at the numerous vineyards at Gibbston, and visit the original AJ Hackett Kawarau Bridge Bungy site.
Cromwell Fruit Sculpture
Take in a Church service – times are indicated in the local News sheets. Have a rest day or picnic on the numerous picnic areas around Lake Dunstan; and catch up on the activities not seen or achieved during the previous six days.
Lunch in the Mall. Wander around the shops including New World, Nichols Garden Centre, Hunting & Fishing, Real Estate windows; visit the Skateboard Park; and look at the Cromwell Fruit Sculpture. For the energetic – unwind with a walk along the various lakeshore tracks such as Old Cromwell to Bannockburn; Cromwell to Pisa Moorings; Bannockburn to Goldfields; and Old Cromwell Reservoir. Or relax for your trip home.
Remember that the Information Centre is open daily from 9am to 6pm during summer, and 9am to 5pm over the winter months, for any enquiries.