Central Otago is home to some of New Zealand's Great Rides, award-winning wineries, gold rush history and dramatic landscapes.
Don't miss these top 10 things to do in Central Otago.
1. Central Otago cycle trails
Discover Central Otago along the region's three iconic trails. TheOtago 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, theClutha 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. Cycle next to turquoise waters on the Lake Dunstan Trail.
2. Central Otago food and wine
The terrain and weather patterns of Central Otago create excellent growing conditions for cherries and stone fruit. Award winning restaurants, cellar doors and food events means food lovers flock to the region. Explore the flavours of Central Otago, fresh from the source.
Many of the towns in Central Otago were established as a result of the gold rush. When visiting towns such as Ophir, Bannockburn, Clyde and Naseby 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.
4. Highlands Motorsports
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.
5. Central Otago wineries and vineyards
Hugged by mountains and interlaced with lakes and deep river gorges, the wineries inCentral OtagoandLake Wānaka are truly spectacular. Here, the cool climate combined with glacially derived soils, means vineyards produce a highly elegant pinot noir and some quietly impressive white wine varietals and the occasionalpink rosé. Wine production is spread across six sub-regions, which are the Cromwell Basin,Bendigo,Bannockburn,Gibbston, andAlexandraand Wānaka.
Visit Hayes Engineering Works and Homestead(opens in new window) to travel through history visiting stables, a dairy, works and homestead. Discover where kiwi innovator, Ernest Hayes, turned his innovative ideas into revolutionary products. Take a break in this peaceful oasis and indulge yourself with delicious coffee and foods made with fresh produce grown on site.
7. Naseby Curling
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.
8. Experience the thrill of Goldfields Jetboat
Queenstown isn't the only place for an epic jet boat experience. Head down the banks of the mighty Kawarau River onboard on a powerful V8 jet boat with Goldfields Jet. Your highly trained driver will navigate the shallow, braided waters of the Bannockburn arm at epic speeds. Power up stream through the breathtaking narrow Kawarau Gorge, racing past canyon walls before arriving at the base of the impressive Staircase Rapids. The only ride to offer shallow water and deep rapids in one adrenaline filled hit, with multiple 360 spins thrown in.
9.Cruise along the Clutha River
Take a relaxing journey back in time along the Clutha River with a Heritage Cruise. 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.
10. Discover the Central Otago Arts Trail
Meet local artists in their studios and at local art galleries along the Central Otago Arts Trail. 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.