Central Otago

The towns of Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell, Roxburgh, Middlemarch and Ranfurly are ideal bases from which to explore the surrounding historic countryside.

Central Otago is the only region in New Zealand to experience a continental climate, having the hottest summers and coldest winters in New Zealand.

Old trails that provided access for thousands of miners in the gold rush of the 1860s can still be seen winding over the hills, along with stone cottages, cleverly engineered water channels, mines and machinery associated with the gold rush.

The towns of Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell, Roxburgh and Ranfurly are ideal bases from which to explore the surrounding historic countryside.

Hydroelectric dams along the Clutha River have formed Lake Roxburgh and Lake Dunstan. These now offer a range of recreational opportunities of their own, from power boating and fishing to wind surfing and sailing.

Wine has become one of central Otago’s newest industries, with many of the wineries still small and offering tastings throughout the summer months.


Alexandra is one of New Zealand’s hottest places in summer.

Locals and tourists flock here to relax amongst the rocky Central Otago mountains. It is the largest town on the Clutha River and for those just passing through from Roxburgh to Cromwell, Wanaka or Queenstown, its a great place to stop and have lunch.

If you’re staying a little longer there is plenty to do here, especially if you like fruit and orchards. So if you’re passing this way its definitely time to stock up on the finest range of fruit available.

If you’re new to the area, it really has a distinctive look of its own. There are the rolling hills covered in tussock and spectacular rock formations which will make any drive through the area a worthwhile trip.


This is a very special place, its nestled away, at the foot of the Cromwell Gorge, hidden from the hustle and bustle of the adventure mecca’s Queenstown and Wanaka.

In the old days, it used to serve as a resting point for the early gold mining pioneers. You can see why they stopped here, Clyde is a peaceful place to stay and relax. Sheltered from the Central Otago climate you can enjoy the cafe scene amongst the historic gold mining atmosphere.

There is still plenty to do here such as tours to local orchards, vineyards and farms. If that sounds a bit hectic then simply go for a walk and visit some of the towns many historic sights.


Cromwell rests in the Upper Clutha valley of Central Otago at the shores of Lake Dunstan.

Home to orchards and vineyards, Cromwell is an ideal place to stop and relax between before entering the gorges on the way to Queenstown, Alexandra or Omarama.

There is a quieter pace here, which is ideal for those people seeking leisure pursuits that don’t leave you out of breath.

In 1862 gold was discovered in the Cromwell area. Once the word of a gold strike was out, there was an influx of several thousand miners to the area.

As gold ran out, Cromwell became the service center for an extensive farming and fruit-growing area. It has a strategic location between the Lindis and Haast Passes, and acts as a hub between the towns of Wanaka, Queenstown and Alexandra.
Cromwell is within easy reach of the Cardrona, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Treble Cone ski fields.

MiddleMarch & Strath Taieri

Nestled between the Taieri plains and Central Otago is Middlemarch and Strath Taieri. Just one hour’s drive from Dunedin City through Mosgiel, take State Highway 87 past Outram to Middlemarch.

Middlemarch is especially known for the Otago Central Railway line which began in 1879. The line runs from Wingatui, near Dunedin, to Middlemarch. The line from Dunedin is still operated by The Taieri Gorge Railway who make day trips to the area.

Recently the Middlemarch "Singles Dance" has captured the imagination of the nations romantics. The dance was initially designed to help locals expand their options for the perfect partner. Today Dunedin love hopefuls bi-annually make the romantic train journey in the hope of finding their dream partner. The next dance will be held on the 7th April 2007.


Walking or Biking the Otago Central Rail Trail

The Otago Central Rail Trail stretches 150km from Clyde to Middlemarch on the Strath Taieri.

The Rail Trail takes around 3-5 days to bike and 5-7 days to walk. There are plenty of places to stay along the way and there are also guided trips.

Most tourism outfits provide bike and horse hire and transportation to and from destinations on the Trail. For more information visit:


(7) Comments