Located in the southern half of the South Island, Central Otago is New Zealand’s most inland region and presents a stunning landscape of rugged snow-capped mountains, deep gorges, mighty rivers, alpine fields and tussock-clad hills.
Its many towns and settlements are founded on the pioneering spirit of high-country farming and adventure-seeking gold miners. Cromwell is just a 40 minutes’ drive from Queenstown and an hour from Wanaka while vibrant Alexandra is a 2.5-hour drive from Dunedin.
Certainly punching above its weight when it comes to world-class experiences and authentic kiwi hospitality, Central Otago is the place to be for travellers seeking the extraordinary. From world-class fruit and wine to word-class cycling trails, you should definitely expect the unexpected in this beautiful part of the Aotearoa New Zealand.
World-Class Pinot Noir
Central Otago is the world’s southernmost wine producing region yet Pinot Noir, the most challenging grapes to grow flourishes here. Amidst the extreme climate, mountainous landscape and demanding terrain, the relentless winemakers of Central Otago have won the world over with the unique flavours and styles of their award-winning Pinot Noir. With over 80 wineries in the region, there are plenty of opportunities to get a taste of Central Otago finest wines.
Top tip: The Aroma Room at Highlands offers a unique tasting experience with the best Central Otago wines on offer in a world-class facility.
World-Class Cycling Trails
Home to three of New Zealand’s 23 Great Rides, Central Otago is a cyclist’s paradise. Opened in 2000, the 152 km Otago Central Rail Trail is New Zealand’s first Rail Trail and the original Great Ride. The former railway line runs in an arc through the wide-open valleys between Middlemarch and Clyde; you can traverse it in either direction, or just do part of the trail. Described as a Grade 1 trail, this Great Ride is perfect for novice cyclists, families and others looking for an easy and epic cycling experience.
World-Class Experiences at Highlands
Voted the #1 activity to-do in Cromwell, Highlands is home to world-class experiences along with complementary world-class facilities. This is where you can experience the exceptional.
Highlands is home to some of the rarest cars in NZ motorsport history including a $4.2 million-dollar Aston Martin Vulcan. Treat yourself to a Supercar Fast Dash around Highlands’ top-notch race circuit or go for the Radical U-Drive experience – it’s time to hop into the driver’s seat and get a feel for what it’s like to be a Formula One Driver for the ultimate self-drive experience. Sample the finest Central Otago wines at the on-site Aroma Room and indulge in local cuisine with the most spectacular views at Highlands Café.
Top tip: The Highlands outdoor Go-Kart Track is 650 metres long, consists of 672 cubic metres of concrete jungle and edged with 4,830 tyres. With German built Rimo karts capable of speeds of up to 50 km/hr, make sure to bring your mates for some thrilling, go-karting fun at Highlands and create memories that last a lifetime.
Cromwell’s mouth-watering, eye-catching giant fruit sculptures are definitely larger than life and proudly showcases Cromwell as the fruit bowl of New Zealand. Widely regarded as the best in the world, Cromwell produces a variety of fruit bursting with intense flavours including cherries, apricots, nectarines, plums, apples and pears. Fruit trees were planted in the region as early as 1864 – with generations of exceptional fruit growers mastering the unique soil and climate here for crops to thrive.
Top tip: Keep an eye out for the numerous roadside fruit stalls where you can purchase produce fresh off the orchard. Some orchards allow you to book in tours or get a hands-on with a PYO experience.
Central Otago’s rich pioneering history and strong connection to the land serves as perfect inspiration for merino growers. Local producers of this high-quality, natural fibre have attracted international accolades and recognition for many generations – with New Zealand merino hailing from Central Otago always at the forefront of fashion. Coveted for its extraordinary and flexible fibres, NZ merino wool keeps you warm in cold conditions and cool in hot conditions.
Top tip: Make sure you to book a farm tour to get a glimpse of a real working farm – with some offering live shearing demonstrations.
Alex Bayes August 30, 2019
Posted In: News