Here you will experience a world of difference
This golden heartland is an expansive dry land of continental climatic extremes, dramatic landscapes, breathtaking colour, and abundant flavours. Walk, cycle or horse ride the country’s only Rail Trail, past productive farmlands, spectacular gorges, awesome schist rock and magnificent mountains. Retrace the steps of hardy pioneers, through goldfields, historic sites, museum collections, and small towns with stone architecture.
Stop by orchard stalls of succulent summer fruits, and take a wine trail to fledgling vineyards of international repute.
Admire the first wildflowers of spring, and the stunning shades of autumn.
Experience cross-country skiing, water sports, mountain biking and multi-sport events. Fish for salmon on the Clutha River, and trout in both the lakes and rivers. Try the ancient winter ice sport of Curling, and visit the many exceptional art and craft galleries.
Bannockburn, Bendigo, Cromwell, Lowburn, Queensberry, Ripponvale, Tarras
Cromwell, originally located at a junction of the Clutha and Kawarau Rivers, was swamped by Lake Dunstan in 1993 when the Clyde dam was built. Many pioneer buildings were rescued and relocated to an historic precinct in Old Cromwell’s current location, on the lake shore.
Jackson’s Lookout views the waters over the original town. The reconstructed buildings (including stabels) of Old Cromwell Town are today alive with artists at work.
Glimpse past gold mining at Carrick and Bendigo goldfields, and in nearby Bannockburn, an historic town, where sluicing has left its mark. Goldfields Mining Centre has an operational sluice gun, and opportunities to pan for gold.
Tour the orchards and vineyards. Abundant sun-ripened apricots, nectarines, cherries, apples and peaches have earned Cromwell its reputation as the ‘fruit bowl of the south’, while 60 percent of Central Otago’s famed vineyards lie across this region.
Experience nature at the Bendigo Wetlands and Chafer Beetle Reserve. Walk Cromwell’s unique greenway of tracks. Trout fish (Lowburn Inlet), picnic or jetboat on Lake Dunstan.
Alexandra, Clyde, Earnscleugh, Fruitlands
The thriving town metropolis of Alexandra is Central Otago’s business and political capital. It is situated at the conjunction of two rivers, the Manuherikia and the mighty Clutha. A little further up the Clutha is the historic gold mining township of Clyde and the immense Clyde hydro dam. Enjoy the wineries, eateries, parks, artists’ studios, craft markets and modern facilities of Alexandra and Clyde, but remember, its gold mining past is never far from the surface.
Wonder at the hardship and innovation in Alexandra Museum’s collections.
Tour old gold diggings and dredge sites like the spectacular Earnscleugh Flat tailings, and Clyde’s aged stone buildings. The grand Alexandra Courthouse (1879-1972), is one of the oldest.
Amble across Shaky Bridge, an early suspensions bridge. Magnificent stone piers are all that is left of Alexandra’s first bridge over the Clutha river.
Visit Clyde, a quaint, well preserved town of the gold rush era. Its nearby hydro dam has a capacity of 432 megawatts of power from its four turbines.
Coal Creek, Ettrick, Millers Flat, Lake Roxburgh Village, Roxburgh, Shingle Creek
Roxburgh town lies alongside the Clutha river in the beautiful Teviot Valley. Its lake was created by the Roxburgh Dam, commissioned in 1956. Pre-European Maori hunted the now extinct, giant flightless Moa here. Settlers began farming in the late 1850s and gold miners quickly followed. They left behind historic relics and streets names after Scottish borders.
Learn the story of the miners’ Lonely Graves at Millers Flat, where there is also an old bakehouse, suspension bridge, and the stone ruins of a Teviot woolshed. In Roxburgh, some beautiful mud-brick and stone buildings are still in use, and the gorge has many preserved Chinese rock shelters. Taste exquisite summer fruits of cherries, apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches, pears, berries and apples at roadside orchard stalls, also laden with preserves, juices and fresh vegetables.
Fish for salmon on the Clutha, and trout in the lakes. Indulge in water sports on Lake Roxburgh. Walk the Town River Walkways, Old Bullock Trail and others, or four wheel drive, mountain bike or trek into the hills.
Becks, Chatto Creek, Lauder, Moa Creek, Omakau, Ophir, Poolburn, St Bathans
Explore the roadways and discover old farm buildings and miners’ cottages made from local schist stone. The historic town of Cambrians has well preserved mud-brick buildings, and the former White Horse Hotel at Becks is made of stone and timber.
Visit Ophir and St Bathans, living townships of the gold rush hey days. In St Bathans, both the post office and the reputedly haunted Vulcan Hotel, are still in business. Nearby Blue Lake resulted from the flooding of an enormous pit left by the world’s deepest hydraulic mining lift of gravel.
Admire the many historic buildings in Ophir, once the area’s most populous centre. It also has a spectacular suspension bridge with stone piers.
Enjoy local hospitality at the pubs and eateries dotted around Manuherikia Valley, also renown for its arts and handicrafts. Get active on the Chatto Creek to Lauder section of the Rail Trail. Fish in the Manuherikia River, or wallow in its many swimming holes.
Gimmerburn, Kyeburn, Kokonga, Naseby, Oturehua, Patearoa, Paerau, Ranfurly, Wedderburn, Waipiata
Discover the picturesque old gold mining townships of Naseby and Patearoa. Evidence of gold diggings also exists at Kyeburn, Golden Progress Mine, and in Hamiltons district.
Marvel at the 1930s simple modernist art deco architecture of Ranfurly. This is Maniototo’s main town and New Zealand’s Rural Art Deco oasis. Visit Hayes Engineering Works at Oturehua, the home of impressive farming inventions (1895-1933). The plant features equipment still used and exported today. Nearby the 1930s Gilchrist’s general store is still trading.
Experience the ancient Scottish winter ice sport of curling at Naseby. Fish the Taieri River. Take the Maniototo section of the Rail Trail, the Sowburn Walkway, or established tracks through the forests.