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Aurum Wines Central Otago Wine

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Cromwell, a hidden gem

45mn from Queenstown airport and 2.5 h from Dunedin airport.

Cromwell is one of New Zealand’s hidden gems. As well as being the home to Aurum Wines, Cromwell is also surrounded by stunning mountains and lakes and sits at the heart of the Central Otago wine region.

Cromwell is a popular destination for day trippers from Queenstown and Dunedin. Located only 45 minutes from Queenstown and two and a half hours from Dunedin, the drive to Cromwell will take you through the heart of the stunning Otago region and it’s the perfect opportunity to get out and explore beyond two of the South Island’s major cities.

As well as being at the heart of wine growing country, Cromwell is also known for its fruit production and is a hotspot for backpackers and students looking for seasonal work in the orchards and the vineyards.

Cromwell is also the home to some great activities from action-packed jet boating to the more relaxing walking and hiking opportunities that are abundant in and around Cromwell.

If you are planning a trip to Cromwell and you are looking for ideas for things to do, here are some of our favourites:

Top 5 things to do in Cromwell

Whether you’re looking for action or relaxation, you should find plenty in this list to keep you busy on a day trip or longer to Cromwell.

1.      Central Otago Wine Tasting

Perhaps we are a little biased on this one, however one of the main attractions in Cromwell is the vineyards. Here at Aurum, you can visit our cellar door during the summer from 11am to 5pm for tastings, locally sourced platters, and sales. Our cellar door is situated in the original farm cottage and is surrounded by a fragrant country garden with plenty of off-road parking. Throughout the year we offer tastings of our Single Estate Organic Central Otago Pinot Noir, Mathilde Pinot Noir, Madeleine Pinot Noir, Amber Wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Gris Rosé, Dry Riesling and Dessert Wines. You can also taste and purchase our Central Otago organic olive oil.

2.      Cycle Lake Dunstan

If you are looking for something a bit more energetic, why not hire a bike and go and explore one of the many cycle trails located in and around Cromwell. The Cromwell to Bannockburn Lakeside Trail is one of the most popular and one of the easiest and takes in some of the stunning scenery along the shores of Lake Dunstan, through Old Cromwell Town and along the Kawarau River. The ride ends at Bannockburn Bridge where you will find a pub serving great food and cold drinks.

3.      Jet boat on the Kawarau River

Jet boating has become one of the most popular activities in New Zealand for locals and tourists alike. Whilst Queenstown is a popular spot for jet boating, consider exploring the Kawarau River from Cromwell where Goldfields Jet will take you along the Kawarau River Gorge, taking you dangerously close to the towering canyon walls and performing some thrilling 360 degree spins.

4.      Pan for gold at the Goldfields Mining Centre

Cromwell was at the heart of the gold rush in New Zealand in the 1860s and gold mining is still a pretty big deal in Cromwell. Remarkably, there is still gold to be found in the surrounding rivers so why not try your luck and strike for gold at the Goldfields Mining Centre. It’s not just about the panning for gold – there are some lovely walks and a lot to learn about the history of golf mining in the area and you can either take a guided tour or self-guide your way through a range of cool machinery and historic information boards. There’s also some stunning views over the Kawarau River.

5.      Highlands Motorsport Park

For thrill seekers, it may surprise you to know that Cromwell is home to a motorsport park, with the Highlands Motorpsort Park located in Cromwell. Highlands hosts a number of professional racing events, however, it’s also a great place for you to enjoy an adrenaline-packed day of motorsport. There are a number of options depending on your budget and experience – from go-karting to fast laps, driver training t0 the car museum – there is a little bit of something for everyone at Highlands.

Getting around

Cromwell is extremely accessible no matter where you fly into – Queenstown or Dunedin. If you are looking for a rental car when you hit the South Island, look no further than locally owned and operated GO Rentals. With rental car locations in Queenstown and hire cars at Dunedin Airport, they have a wide range of modern rental cars to suit all budgets and all traveller groups.

Cromwell, a hidden gem