Cromwell is strategically located for easy day trips to all corners of Central Otago. It is also a convenient and affordable base for skiing the winter ski fields of The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Treble Cone, Cardrona, and Waiorau Snow Farm. There are a variety of places to stay, from quality hotel and motel accommodation, to farmstays, camping grounds and chalets for backpackers.
Activities for individuals and groups who prefer to explore and experience places at their leisure include four-wheel driving the many hill tracks (but please check with the land owner first!), trekking and mountain biking, visiting the Central Otago vineyards and wineries, exploring the old stone buildings the Information Centre and Museum and old Cromwell Town, walking the numerous walking tracks, and discovering the old mining landscapes.
Organised activities include guided fishing trips on Lake Dunstan, four-wheel drive tours, golf all the year round on the 18-hole championship course, snowmobiles in the winter, orchard tours, the wine trail, jet boating the Kawarau or Clutha rivers, or guided tours to historic sites and scenic sites.
Activities in & around Cromwell
Cromwell is a town steeped in history, from pioneer days in the goldfields, to the recent creation of a new lake and town centre. The Cromwell and Districts Museum offers you a chance to appreciate the life and times of days gone by with excellent displays and exhibits. It is located in The Mall as part of the Cromwell Information Centre complex. Come on in!
Old Cromwell Town
Old Cromwell Town is located at Melmore Terrace on the shores of Lake Dunstan. Buildings destined to be flooded by the lake were saved, dismantled and rebuilt to provide a living record of Cromwell’s heritage. You are welcome to walk into the museum buildings and to visit the working artisans and shops throughout the precinct. Take time out to relax, have lunch, and enjoy this unique piece of New Zealand’s pioneering past.
Goldfields Mining Centre
The Goldfields of the Central Otago region were amongst the richest in the world and the scene of major gold rushes in the late 19th century. Goldfields Mining Centre is located at the entrance to the Kawarau Gorge on State highway 6 and is “Where the past and present meet”. The facility incorporates ‘Goldfields Jet’ and ‘The Sluicings’ café.
Cromwell Fruit Sculpture
Like it or hate it, the Cromwell Fruit Sculpture is an imposing traffic-stopping feature! Located adjacent to The Mall, the 13m high fibreglass structure was built in 1989 and cost some $70,000 at the time. It comprises an over-sized apricot, apple, pear and nectarine – the grapes and cherries have yet to be added! Even after several re-paints, the sculpture remains an interesting photo opportunity stop and has become the Cromwell districts icon.
Walking & Hiking
The Cromwell District's physical make-up and climate make it especially suitable for getting out and about by either walking or mountain biking. Information on good areas for walking in Cromwell is available from the Cromwell Information Centre and explained fully in a ‘Walk Cromwell’ brochure available at the Centre.
The Cromwell district is well known as a great place in which to mountain bike. The variety of topography from flat to steep, dry conditions and good climate are conducive to good biking. The Cromwell Promotion Group also organises a ‘Cromwell Summer Series’ that has three great mountain bike races that show all participants some ‘off the road’ parts of the district.
The clear, sparkling waters of Lake Dunstan provide some excellent fishing spots. Despite the number of anglers who frequent the lake, the authorities consider that the area remains under fished.
“The Cromwell Golf course sits comfortably on land similar to that of the famous Melbourne sand belt. The combination of expansive rolling dunes of the front nine and the more traditional, tree-lined nature of the back nine make for an endlessly interesting golf experience”. Greg Turner
Central Otago is the southern-most grape-growing region in the world located at latitude 45° South. The region's vineyards are located east of the resort town of Queenstown and include the towns of Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra. Although small in size, Central Otago is a wine region with a well-established international reputation for Pinot noir. This variety accounts for more than 85% of vineyard plantings, with Chardonnay, Pinot gris and Riesling making up the majority of the rest. Production of sparkling wine, made from Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes, has also been well received internationally.
The Central Otago summerfruit industry grew as alluvial gold mining in the district declined and miners sought alternative ways of making a living. Today, horticulture is the districts second industry after sheep and cattle farming and is a major generator of employment, both directly and through secondary industries. It is one of the icons of the district and helps define the identity of the area and assists in attracting visitors.
Arts & Crafts
There is a variety of arts and crafts outlets with choices to suit all tastes and budgets. Old Cromwell Town offers the base for numerous local artists and artisans and is open daily. You are welcome to walk into the museum buildings and to visit working artisans and shops throughout the area. Take time out to relax and enjoy this unique piece of New Zealand’s pioneering past.
Cromwell has a number of established tourist-orientated activities – and plans for more in the future. Paintball Central, Cromwell Mini Golf and Cromwell Swim Centre provide year round attractions, while Nevis Snowmobile Adventure is for winter months only.