Cromwell - Your Central Otago holiday destination
For the active and adventurous, the wine lovers and photographers, Cromwell has so much to offer both young and old. There are many things to do in Cromwell and with everything right on your doorstep, it’s a must to stay in Cromwell and experience all it has to offer.
Things to do
- Fly Fishing - Looking for a lake teeming with trout and whichever way the wind blows there's always smooth water for family doughnut riding or having fun on a jet-ski. Cromwell's got it.
- Mountain Biking - Cromwell's surrounded by lofty ranges laced with tracks and trails from fairly easy to hair-raising. Don't worry about bringing a mountain bike; we have them for hire at the Golden Gate Lodge.
- Wine Tours - Looking to unwind with a glass or two of New Zealand's finest central Otago pinot noir? Cromwell's at the heart of the Central Otago wine region.
- Walking and Hiking Trails - Cromwell's got miles of lakeside and mountain top opportunities.
- Golf - Looking to improve your golf handicap? A $NZ 1 million make-over of Cromwell's 18 hole links puts it amongst New Zealand's best country courses. Golden Gate Lodge is within a chip shot of the 7th whole fairway and 8th Tee.
- Looking to discover New Zealand's pioneer past? You'll find it alive and well in Old Cromwell Town.
- Cromwell for the Kids - In Cromwell you'll strike gold on local rivers or at the marvelous Goldfields Mining Centre (where a find is guaranteed). While you're there treating them and yourself to a fast, thrill-a-moment ride on a Goldfields Jet boat is a must do!
- Relaxation - Looking to relax with a good book under a blue Central Otago sky? Cromwell's the place for you.
- Central Otago Food - Looking to enjoy New Zealand's best cherries, apricots, apples and other fruits? Not only can you buy these direct from orchards, on Sundays over summer months there's fresh fruit and produce at Cromwell's Central Otago Farmers' Market.
- Looking for speed - You don’t have to go far to arrive at Highland Motorsport Park, National Motor Musuem and go-kart track with low noise carts available for hire every day of the week. Right next door is Central Motor Speedway offering a full programme of pedal-to-the-metal racing from spring through to early autumn.
- Shopping - Looking for a little retail therapy? Cromwell Mall just across the road from the Golden Gate Lodge offers a surprising range of shopping opportunities including fashion stores, sports store, pharmacist, sound and vision outlet, Paper Plus as well as restaurants and cafes. The Mall is also home to the Cromwell i-SITE and Cromwell Museum.
Location - Looking for a holiday that's central to everything? No guessing the answer to that.
Cromwell and the Golden Gate Lodge:
- 40 minutes by road from Queenstown Airport
- 35 minutes from historic Arrowtown
- 30 minutes from Wanaka Airport
- 20 minutes from Alexandra and its stone fruit orchards
- 15 minutes from historic Clyde, the start of the Otago Central Rail Trail and New Zealand's largest concrete hydro electricity dam.
- 25 minutes from Tarras (home of the late Shrek the sheep)
- 1 to 1.5 hours from five of New Zealand’s best ski fields
- 2 hours from Dunedin airport
Weather and Climate - Looking to escape to weather that's as close as it gets in New Zealand to a continental climate? What this means is Cromwell is in the region of New Zealand's lowest annual rainfall where summers are hot with low humidity and winters cold and crisp. As for spring and autumn, they're spectacular.
In 1862 two miners, Hartley and Reilly, discovered gold just a few kilometers down the Clutha from the junction of the two rivers. This was the find that started the Otago Gold Rush and turned a tiny settlement into a township of thousands. Unlike many of Central Otago's gold mining townships, when the gold ran out Cromwell survived, becoming a key service centre of what would become an extensive farming and fruit growing area.
In the 1990s it looked as if Cromwell might finally succumb to change. The creation of Lake Dunstan drowned the river confluence and the main business centre of town, but before than happened community spirit forced the saving of a number of historic buildings. Their relocation and rebuilding created what is now Old Cromwell Town. Over the years further buildings have been restored or replicated to make this a major attraction especially during summer months when the Central Otago Famers' Market is held every Sunday. Community pressure also saw the building of the Cromwell Shopping Mall which is just across the road from the Golden Gate Lodge.
Central Otago Wine
Too cold. Too far south. Too high. The doubters and skeptics had a field day when in the 1990s the first serious efforts were made to establish Central Otago as a wine growing region. From just 11 wineries in 1996 there are now around 80. Most vineyards are relatively small focusing on quality rather than quantity. A philosophy that has established a world wide reputation for Central Otago Pinot Noir wines. Staying at the Golden Gate Lodge puts you right at the centre of wine tasting. The Golden Gate Lodge’s free courtesy van will take you to vineyards and collect you afterwards.
Before the 1990s when the giant Clyde hydro electricity dam created Lake Dunstan, Cromwell's claim to fame was as the township at the junction of the swift-flowing Kawarau River and mighty Clutha River (Mata-Au), New Zealand's biggest river by volume.
Not unsurprisingly Cromwell was first known as 'The Junction' but in a show of patriotism for Mother England; pioneer townsfolk changed the name to Cromwell in honor of the English military and political leader, Oliver Cromwell.