Cromwell was established by gold miners, but now its treasure is stone fruit. Explore nearby ghost towns and soak up the tranquil lakeside scenery.
Located on the shores of Lake Dunstan, Cromwell has the appearance of a modern town, but its history stretches back to the gold rush days of the 1800s. This history is best experienced in 'Old Cromwell Town’, a feature attraction for visitors.
In the 1980's and 90's Cromwell underwent a major transformation with the construction of the Clyde Dam power station. When the dam was completed in 1992, the valley behind it was flooded to create Lake Dunstan. As a result, the original site of Cromwell's historic business district at the junction of the Kawarau and Clutha Rivers now lies at the bottom of the lake.
Before the lake was created, many of the town centre's historic buildings were painstakingly removed to higher ground by dedicated volunteers. Others that could not be moved were faithfully reconstructed. Stone-by-stone and plank-by-plank, local craftsmen made sure that 'Old Cromwell town' would live on.
Visitors can wander through the historic precinct to inspect buildings from 1860 to 1900 that reflect the town's gold mining and pioneering past. These include the London House Stables, Captain Barry's cottage, the Cobb & Co Store, Belfast Store and Jolly's Seed & Grain Store. In front of the restored town centre, a wharf provides a convenient departure point for tours of Lake Dunstan aboard a beautifully restored 1929 wooden motor launch.
Old gold mining sites in the area include Bannockburn and Bendigo, where you’ll find ruins of miners’ cottages.
Today, Cromwell’s major industry is fruit growing – if you’re here over summer, roadside fruit stalls are a delicious temptation.
Functional facts: Approx. population 4900, i-SITE Visitor Centre, shopping centre.