Central Otago is home to three of NZ's Great Rides, award-winning wineries, gold rush history and dramatic landscapes. Don't miss these top 8 experiences.
Curling was introduced to Central Otago over 130 years ago by Scottish gold miners, and is still played today. It is a game to be enjoyed by everyone, even if you've never picked up a broom before and regardless whether it is hot or cold you can try your hand at a game at the indoor Curling rink in Naseby(opens in new window).
Visit Real Dog Adventures(opens in new window) for a different type of thrill on a sled ride! Before you dash away you will be taken on a tour where you will meet the dogs, and if you're keen you can even take a turn at harnessing them. Once you take to the trail there are plenty of opportunities to have photos taken with the sled team with the Central Otago country providing an epic background.
For the ultimate speed thrill visit Highlands Motorsport Park(opens in new window). Sit alongside a professional race driver on a ‘Supercar Fast Dash’ in a Ferrari 488 GTB capable of reaching 100km/h in just 3 seconds. This is one adrenaline rush that can’t be missed.
Many of the towns in Central Otago were established as a result of the gold rush. When visiting towns such as Ophir(opens in new window), Bannockburn(opens in new window), Clyde(opens in new window) and Naseby(opens in new window) and their surrounds it is easy to see their gold mining heritage. From the historic buildings, to the remains of gold mining such as the Bannockburn Sluicing Historic Reserve offering evidence of water races, dams, tunnels and shafts these areas are all testament to their golden history.
Meet local artists in their studios and at local art galleries along the Central Otago Arts Trail(opens in new window). There is every type of art to be seen and experienced in the area from painting, sculpting, ceramics, photography, fashion, woodcarving, bespoke furniture, and jewellery, to music, dance, acting, writing and film.
The Central Otago region is blessed with perfect wine growing conditions from which it produces award winning Pinot Noir, among other varietals. There are more than 80 wineries, so there is no shortage of cellar doors to visit for wine tasting. To accompany the perfect drop make sure to sample the local produce(opens in new window) on offer including olives, juice, honey, herbs, cheeses and meats. Roadside fruit stalls are an iconic feature of Central Otago. Enjoy the intense flavours of Central Otago’s freshly picked summer fruit, widely regarded as among the best in the world.
Take a relaxing journey back in time along the Clutha River with a Heritage Cruise(opens in new window). Your cruise skipper will take you through the gold mining history of the area; from the discovery of Gold to the depression and point out relics of gold mining such as the old miners huts and a preserved gold mine that sit along the river, while you sit back and soak up the stories and scenery.
Discover Central Otago along the region's three iconic trails(opens in new window). The Otago Central Rail Trail follows the former railway route between Middlemarch and Clyde. Experience ever-changing scenery from spectacular river gorges, tunnels and viaducts to historic townships. The Roxburgh Gorge Trail passes dramatic bluffs and gold-mining remnants as it travels from Alexandra to Lake Roxburgh Dam, along the Clutha Mata-au River. Beginning where the Roxburgh Trail ends, the Clutha Gold Trail runs from the dam through the Beaumont Gorge and along the Roxburgh Branch railway line to Otago's first gold rush town, Lawrence.
Getting around New Zealand is easy with familiar road signs and a great range of transport options available.
There are plenty of accommodation options for every budget and travel style.
Visit in Spring or Autumn to enjoy warm weather, spectacular colours, lower prices & short queues.