Once the site of a 19th-century gold rush, Central Otago is full of small towns and isolated villages with rich and fascinating histories—not to mention must-stop wine-tasting rooms. Plus, the region’s striking rivers, mountains, and valleys offer plenty of outdoor adventure opportunities. Cycle through the countryside on the 94-mile (152-kilometer) Otago Central Rail Trail; jet boat around the Kawarau Gorge; have the kids try curling in Naseby or gold panning in Roxburgh; or visit a few filming locations fromLord of the Rings andThe Hobbit.
Recent reviews from experiences in Dunedin & The Otago Peninsula
Things to Know Before You Go
Central Otago is ideal for adventure seekers, wine lovers, and those seeking a respite from bustling urban centers nearby.
Cromwell and regional capital Alexandra are the two most popular locations for staying overnight in Central Otago, with plenty of accommodations and easy access to other parts of the area.
Cromwell is also home to Highlands Motorsport Park, where children and grown-ups alike can experience incredible speeds in a range of supercars and racing vehicles.
The Otago region can get bitterly cold during winter and even see snow, so if you’re visiting then make sure to pack warm clothes and waterproof jackets.
How to Get There
Cromwell and Alexandra are each approximately a 1-hour drive from Queenstown along State Highways 6 and 8. A few roads lead to Alexandra from Dunedin as well. Alternatively, catch a bus from Dunedin or Queenstown.
When to Get There
Spring and summer are the best, sunniest times to visit Central Otago. In September or October, the annual Eat.Taste.Central food festival has restaurants, cafés, and wineries offering unique regional menus tailored to the year’s theme.
Central Otago Pinot Noir
The Central Otago region is one of the southernmost winemaking regions in the world, and its dry alpine climate has a strong international reputation. Central Otago pinot noirs, in particular, are popular worldwide.