Ron LaughlinThe Ultimate New Zealand Travel Guide
Alexandra& Central Otago
Alexandra and Central Otago Information:
Alexandra is the heart of the region with a population of close to 5000 most wonderful and friendly folks. Located 190km from Dunedin, 93km from Queenstown, 88km from Wanaka and 37km from Cromwell.
What we usually do is leave Arrowtown on Route 6 toward Cromwell passing through Clyde, home of the Clyde Dam on the Clutha River, the Blues Lounge and Oliver's Restaurant. This was our favourite restaurant when we lived in Queenstown and was run by Fleur. Haven't taken the time to go by since but the funky accommodation is guaranteed fabulous.
Then continue on route 8 for 37km to Alexandra. We specifically go this far out of our way to have a Supreme coffee at the old Courthouse Cafe, 8 Centennial Avenue. In our humble opinion one of the better cafes in the South Island.
Going on south you reach Fruitlands and Roxburgh.
This area is of exceptional beauty and strange rock formations that are spectacular. Summer temperatures are the warmest in New Zealand. Local lakes and rivers provide some of the best water sports in the country and really great trout fishing. A fabulous wine industry provides a fun winery tour. The bonus here is the orchard industry of cherries, apricots, peaches, apples, pears, and olives. Spoiled for choice when in the area for roadside outlets direct from the orchards.They always are in need of help during picking season too.
Cromwell has the Old Cromwell Town historic precinct worth stopping by and walking through. The creation of Lake Dunstan flooded a portion of Cromwell so the old buildings were saved and moved out of harm's way to create the historic site. The Grain&Seed Cafe does a good coffee here and there are several fine artists and craftpeople in the shops. The Cromwell Golf Course has a great reputation also.
If you have the time and the inclination an off-the-beaten-path adventure is to go on to St. Bathans to see some real Central Otago landscape and perhaps see the ghost at the Pub. During the right time of year just down the road at Ranfurly they celebrate Art Deco weekend in style. Street closed off and a party is in session with contests for deco dress along with period car rally. Very special time. Check our Festival link for dates.
One of the finest outdoor activities in the area is biking or walking along the Otago Central Rail Trail. The 150km trail follows the former Otago Central Branch railway line from Middlemarch to Clyde. The rail was the link at the turn of the century from Dunedin to the major goldfields of Central. You can travel in either direction along any part of it. There is no cost. The Trail passes through a number of Maniototo and Central Otago communities where food and accomodation are available. Mountain bikes can be rented. To really get into the whole experience try arriving at the Rail Trail via the Taieri Gorge Tourist train from Dunedin to Middlemarch twice a week in the summer. Check out the website for more information.
Here's an activitiy I bet you haven't done. How about the sport of curling? In Naseby there is the Maniototo Curling International Curling Rink and it is open to everyone to try their skill at curling. A complete indoor rink open 10-5pm all year round, 7 days a week. I boasts a visitors lounge overlooking the rink for a chance to sit in comfort by the bar and watch the pros. Check out their website: Curling in Naseby
A chance of a lifetime to see the final days of the Cavalcade a reinactment of the early pioneer days with over 500 people walking, on horseback or in covered wagons duplicating the trails once used in the beginning of the settlement of the area. The final tribute is the converging of all the participants at a central location for a parade and weekend shindig. More about this later. The area is very fascinating and time should be allowed to visit if possible.
If you do go to Ranfurly and plan to continue to the West Coast via Queenstown it requires a turn around to Cromwell (125km) and then north on Route Six. On the right is Lake Dunstan going north to Wanaka.
Central Otago Information
Alexandra and Clyde Information
Alexandra Blossom Festival
Otago Central Rail Trail
Otago Goldfields Heritage Trail
Art Deco Weekend
Otago Goldfields Cavalcade
Ranfurly Art Deco Festival
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