This historic town is located at the foot of a river gorge and is surrounded by rounded hills of schist punctuated with large craggy standing rocks. Schist is gold bearing rock and substantial strikes in the rivers near Clyde sparked a gold rush in the late 1800s.
It's easy to see why some of the first Europeans to enter the region chose this site as a place to settle. The micro-climate offers hot, dry summers, with mild springs and autumns that are full of nature's colours. Today, Clyde is a great place to enjoy the cafe lifestyle in a scenic setting that's rich in history.
Clyde was the dominant settlement of the Central Otago region until nearby Alexandra built a bridge over the Clutha River and seized power. Thankfully this drew the developers' attentions away from Clyde, which is why many turn-of-the-century buildings remain today. These include several stone cottages, a stone hotel, post office and council buildings. There are three museums in Clyde, making it easy to get a picture of days gone by.
Clyde is at the head of a well known cycling route called the Otago Central Rail Trail, so there are plenty of mountain bikes for hire. A ride to the Clyde Lookout offers spectacular views of the town and beyond.
Nearby is the impressive Clyde Dam, New Zealand's largest concrete gravity dam. It's height is 100m, width at base is 70m, width at crest 10m and length at crest 490m. Controversy surrounded the building of the dam, which saw a number of orchards and houses removed from the Cromwell Gorge to allow the flooding of the river valley.
The lake formed by the dam, Lake Dunstan, is 26.4 square kilometres in size. It is a popular spot for water-skiing, boating, canoeing, jet boating, boat cruises and eco-tours of the abundant fish and bird life. The lake extends from the historical township of Clyde through the Cromwell Gorge to Cromwell township.
From Clyde, you can also take a tour of local orchards, vineyards and farms.