Central Otago, a world of difference
Central Otago is a holiday destination away from the crowds of Queenstown. The wide open blue skies beckon the adventurer to explore side roads of Central Otago and find out why film directors fall in love with the extraordinary landscape.
Central Otago is located in New Zealand’s South Island. Known for its gold mining history, its pinot noir wine trails, and striking vast blue skies and folded hills, the region is rapidly becoming an excellent cycling destination with four well-known dedicated cycling trails.
Explore a landscape painter’s relish for the depth of light and contrasting tussock-clad folded mountain ranges. The distinctive rounded mountains, with their rock tors and gold tussock, are inhabited by unique creatures such as the Otago skink, the mountain stone wētā, and the New Zealand falcon/kārearea. Alpine flowers display their fragile beauty in spring, occasionally carpeting the tops in subtle colour. Visitors are memorized by the remote splendour and the majesty of the semi-arid world of Central Otago.
There’s gold in the’ hills … the lure of instant fortune. The rush was in full flood in 1861 with Gabriel’s Gully (Lawrence) where the gold fever spread its tentacles. Within a year 10,000 mines set up tents in Gabriel’s Gully. Evocative names Dead Horse Pinch, Serpentine and Lonely Graves echo the unfulfilled optimism of 19th century prospectors. Visitors are intrigued by the relics, the stone shelters and the evidence of arduous hard physical labour to extract gold. Attractions range from walks among the sites, restored main streets and museums carefully documenting the story of the search for gold. The magnificent scenery of Central Otago and the lush temperature bush of the West Coast is a bonus… READ MORE
Folded golden tussock clad hills set against skies stretched from horizon to horizon. It is majesty and overpoweringly beautiful. The landscape is home to a series of communities where life is governed by the remote landscape. It is a journey where urban life fades into the timelessness of places where the rhythm of life is largely governed by the seasons.
Photographers check out the local kiwi town info for the best or quirky place for a selfie.
Don’t rush past the Central Otago kiwi towns, stop, explore and check out the local attractions and things to do in Central Otago communities and towns.
Either Dunedin or Queenstown are the usual points of entry to Otago. Both destinations are within easy driving distance with plenty of things to do and see. Central Otago is the place for a road trip. It is ideal country for a motorhome in the summer although winter is not recommended due to snow and icy road conditions. Remember always to check New Zealand, attractions, things to do and places to visit, the definitive travel guide – Best Bits for road driving tips and suggestions and your bucket list of what to do and see in New Zealand is aptly assisted by Amazing 12 Aotearoa New Zealand unmissable attractions – Best Bits.
Touring Central Otago by road is the best way to go.
Allow 3 – 5 days for your visit to Central Otago. Wine trails, heritage goldfields and lingering studio art galleries as well as the distances between destinations.
The best place to visit in Central Otago that embraces key elements, scenery, walks, historic gold trails and wineries is Cromwell. You can easily visit Cromwell in less than 2 hours from Queenstown.
|Queenstown||St Bathans||145 km|
|Dunedin||St Bathans||168.9 km|
The three touring routes exploring Central Otago take the road trip down side roads and detour to quiet places devoid of tourist crowds.
For more road trip holiday inspiration check out Central Otago inland road trip: Queenstown to Dunedin – Best Bits
And consider linking your Central Otago road trips with The Catlins, Southern Scenic Road Trip: Wildlife Safari Road Trip, The Catlins – Best Bits and Southern Scenic Road Trip: Invercargill to Fiordland National Park – Best Bits.
Combined with heavenly scenery, stunning walks Central Otago vineyards are unmissable for wine trail lovers.
Get out, meet and greet the growers. Cromwell’s wine trail embraces 20% of the country’s wineries. That is tremendous for an area covering only 5% of New Zealand’s vineyard area. Choices galore, packed between heritage gold mining locations, perched on valley sides overlooking scenic rivers and the home of award winning Pinot Noir wines. Boutique family focused land management enhances the visitors wine experience.
HANG ON … COMING SOON
The climate of Otago is perhaps the most diverse of any region in New Zealand. The region is in the latitudes of prevailing westerlies, and exposed coastal locations often experience strong winds, but the winds are lighter inland. Winter is typically the least windy time of year, as well as for many but not all areas, the driest.
Annual precipitation in Otago typically decreases with increasing distance from the western ranges and the east coast. Indeed Central Otago is the driest region of New Zealand, receiving less than 400 mm of rainfall annually.
Dry spells of more than two weeks occur relatively frequently in Central Otago, but less so elsewhere. Temperatures are on average lower than over the rest of the country with frosts and snowfalls occurring relatively frequently each year. However daily maximum temperatures in summer can exceed 30°C, especially about inland areas of Otago.
On average, coastal Otago receives less sunshine than many other parts of New Zealand.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE
Your enquiry has been successfully sent. We will contact your shortly.
You will get your insider discount checklist shortly.