There is a reason – or rather, reasons – why this part of New Zealand has won so many accolades for its wine. The combination of hot and cool climate, glacier-fed soils, and some clever growers make Central Otago one of the world’s top wine-growing regions. But with more than 50 cellar doors, it can be hard to know where to begin. Here’s a few ways to narrow it down.
Take a winery tour. If you’re serious about wine, try a private tour of boutique wineries with Queenstown Wine Trail (the tour covers Cromwell), or a tour given by top industry professionals with Roaring Wine Tours. If you just fancy a bit of fun, try Cromwell Classic Car Wine Tours. For a self-guided tour, try 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail – it’s free.
If you are short on time, head into the centre of Cromwell for Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room, Pisa Range and Wild Earth Wines(opens in new window) – these tasting rooms are next door to each other.
Or forget cellar doors and try one of the amazing winery restaurants. You can’t go wrong with Mt Difficulty, Carrick, Amisfield, and Mora Wines & Artisan Kitchen.
Part of the joy of this road trip is the isolation. The journey through these vast, empty landscapes gives you a chance to unwind and feels anything but lonely. Nothing symbolises this feeling better than Mitchell’s Cottage, a 19th Century stone cottage that sits alone in a field of odd-looking rock formations. Visiting the cottage is a simple pleasure and well worth the quick detour off SH8.
If you enjoy mining-era heritage buildings, Cromwell, your home for the night, certainly has its share of beautiful examples, such as London House Stables, Captain Barry’s Cottage, McNulty House – but it’s the more recent history of these buildings that sets them apart.
After the controversial Clyde Dam was built in the 1990s, the Cromwell basin, which included the old town centre, was flooded to create Lake Dunstan. The monumental task of relocating the historic buildings fell to volunteers, who, in many cases, had to reconstruct the buildings by hand, a stone at a time. Today, Heritage Village, as it is now called, is home to thriving cafes, art galleries and farmers’ markets – testimony to the unyielding spirit of this remarkable community.