🚗 self-drive itinerary
🛏️ minimum 2 night stay recommended
🍽️ dining suggestions offered
📅 visit any time of year
Travel to this region and you'll find it breathtakingly different with vast undulating landscapes, rugged snow-capped mountains, clear blue rivers, deep gorges and tussock-clad hills. New Zealand's popular Central Otago Rail Trail begins in Clyde and ends in Middlemarch.
Highlights can include:
- experience the go-karts, race hot laps in a V8 super car, or drive a Lamborghini at Highlands Motorsport, Innovation & Technology Park 🏎️🏁
- take to the skies with Heliview Flights for spectacular scenic flights, wine tasting at altitude or even a heli-biking trip 🚁
- step back in time at the Cromwell Heritage Precinct featuring many artisan businesses, located on the shore of beautiful Lake Dunstan
- venture through spectacular Roxburgh Gorge aboard Clutha River Heritage Cruise to view isolated, impressive examples of European and Chinese Gold mining 🛥️⛏️
- meet the amazing dogs at Real Dog Adventures kennels before experiencing a thrilling ride with a sled dog team (with or without snow) 🛷🐾
- gain an appreciation of the life and working environment of those early miners at Goldfields Mining Centre, then experience the adrenaline rush of a 360° spin on spectacular Goldfields Jet boat ride ⛏️
- take a photographic 4WD safari up the Old Man Range, Bannockburn and the Nevis, Poolburn Dam to view incredible rocky landscapes, golden tussock and vast open skies 🚙
- cycle part of the Otago Central Rail Trail, New Zealand's original 'Great Ride' through ever-changing mountainous landscapes, gorges, tunnels, viaducts and interesting settlements 🚴
- get onto the ice and try your hand at curling at Naseby Indoor Curling Rink - it's a lot easier than you may think 🥌
- try mouthwatering wine including some of New Zealand's best Pinot noir and food with Roaring Wine Tours and discover the best boutique vineyards from Bannockburn to 'Alex' 🍷
- when you've only got 1 day set aside, consider the Roxburgh Gorge Trail a spectacular bike ride that features a mandatory scenic boat transfer to break up your day 🚴🛥️
- admire the amazing colours of St Bathans startling Blue Lake, before a stroll down to the Vulcan Hotel, said to be haunted ⛏️👻
AT A GLANCE
📍 # of Visitors4.5
🌦️ Chance of Rain2.0
👨👩👦👦 Family Fun4.0
🍽️ Food + Wine 7.0
🏳️🌈 LGBTQI+ friendly 👍
Note: the highest possible score is an 8.0
🎥video courtesy of Central Otago NZ on YouTube
Sit back and relax. We've planned it all for you.
Day 1 : Arrive in Central Otago
You'll travel to the region, arriving either by car or by coach or into the village of Middlemarch aboard the Taieri Gorge Railway. Upon arrival into the Central Otago region you'll check in to your accommodation, settle in and get acquainted with your surroundings for the next 2 nights.
Take to the track this afternoon and test your driving skills with FastLaps at Highlands Motorsport Park for three laps on a high-speed adventure you're never forget.
Or if you've had enough driving, park up on the shores of Lake Dunstan, and walk through the charming Cromwell Heritage Precinct spending time browsing through the unique shops and interesting surrounds. The Museum in the town centre is also worth a look when you want to understand how the lake was formed by the Clyde Dam.
Day 2 : a day in Central Otago
Today you can be incredible active, or excessively relaxed.
Roaring Wine Tours will encourage the latter, and tell you to opt for a lazy day of wine tasting under the Central Otago sun. You'll venture between up to 6 different vineyards, and taste a large variety of wines and styles, stopping in the middle of your tour for a delicious platter lunch at one of the region’s best restaurants before continuing your exploration effortlessly guided throughout. Let the taste buds lead you and just enjoy!
Alternatively, the Otago Central Rail Trail might be calling, and if that's the case, even one day is enough to get a taste of the Rail Trail and experience some of the more spectacular sections. A little planning can have you enjoying a picnic in secluded Poolburn Gorge easily enough but be sure to treat yourself at one of the amazing eateries enroute.
If neither of these sound like you, don't fret - you can easily fill your time with other adventures in the region. The very photogenic St Bathans and nearby spooky Vulcan Hotel is a personal favourite, and can easily be combined with time spent at Naseby's Indoor Curling Rink to perhaps pick up a new skill.
Whatever you've ended up doing with your day, as always we'll arrange dinner tonight for you to celebrate delicious New Zealand food and your last night in this region at one of our favourite restaurants in the area.
Day 3 : Depart Central Otago
Before moving on, take the opportunity to step back in time and learn more about the lure of gold at the height of the gold rush at Goldfields Mining Centre before jumping aboard Goldfields Jet for a white-knuckled ride in the Kawarau Gorge. We'll let you know the best way to get from this region to the next part of your New Zealand trip, wherever you want that to be.