The Top Things to do in Central Otago

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Looking for things to do in Central Otago? With a sunny climate and expansive landscape that features ancient mountains, powerful rivers and alpine herb fields, Central Otago offers a wide variety of tours and activities that will help to guide you on your exploration of this beautiful region! From world-class winery tours - with more than 80 wineries in the region - to cycling tours along three of New Zealand's Great Rides, to soaking up the gold rush history and adventuring through the dramatic landscapes, Central Otago is brimming with experiences just waiting to happen!

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Top 10 Things to do in - Central Otago and surrounds

Otago Central Rail Trail
Award-winning Wine
Cromwell Heritage Precinct
Clutha Gold Trail
Fishing the Clutha River
Dine at Local Restaurants
Alpha Street Reserve
Cromwell Farmers’ Markets
Play a round of Golf

1. Ride the Otago Central Rail Trail

Location:Central Otago, South Island

New Zealand’s original ‘Great Ride’ the Otago Central Rail Trail is one of the most popular trails in the country. Stretching over 150-kilometres the trail’s wide, gravel path is suitable for riders, walkers and even horse riders. A challenging journey for riders at times, this trail will take you past some of the most picturesque areas in the region.

2. Try the award-winning Pinot Noir

Location:Various locations, Central Otago

The Central Otago region is renowned for its award-winning Pinot Noir; so visiting the region without at least tasting this champion wine is almost against the law. Renowned as some truly vibrant, pure, flavoursome and colourful pinot noir, you’ll fall in love as you taste its flavour while looking over the rolling vineyards.

3. Try your hand at Curling

Location:Naseby, Central Otago

Come winter, Central Otago transforms into a curling wonderland as the dams and ponds freeze solid. This ancient Scottish ice sport is a popular winter pastime in Central Otago and is a recommended activity for visitors to the area to try. New Zealand’s curling capital is located in Central Otago at Naseby, where a purpose-built, year round curling arena was built.

4. Explore the Cromwell Heritage Precinct

Location:Cromwell, South Island

Considered one of the region’s best kept secrets, Cromwell Heritage Precinct is just waiting to be explored. A free attraction in Central Otago, there is something for the whole family here. You’ll feel as though you’re stepping back in time to what life was like in the gold rush. Most of the buildings are in their original form after being saved from drowning under Lake Dunstan or have been rebuilt to replicate their original appearance.

5. Ride the Clutha Gold Trail

Location:Lake Roxburgh Dam to Lawrence, Central Otago

One of the New Zealand Cycle Trail’s ‘Great Rides’ the Clutha Gold Trail is a great adventure for everyone to enjoy. Ride at your own pace visiting all of the major stops along the way to learn about the wealthy gold heritage of the area while enjoying the beautiful scenery of rural New Zealand. The majority of the trail travels alongside the Clutha River with smooth, wide trails guiding you along. Suitable for those with a moderate fitness level, you can begin the trail at either end and see the absolute best of the region.

7. Dine at Local Restaurants and Cafes

Location:Various locations, Central Otago

Central Otago boasts a range of incredible dining options, from fine dining to casual al-fresco cafes and vibrant pubs and bistros, you won’t leave this region hungry. Accompanying the award-winning wine, is an equally award-worthy selection of food made from fresh, local produce. If you’re chasing a fancy night out, there are various fine dining options serving season-appropriate dishes created by their experienced chefs.

8. Picnic at Alpha Street Reserve

Location:Cromwell, Central Otago

With Lake Dunstan as the backdrop, Alpha Street Reserve provides an array of activities and facilities for everyone to enjoy. Pack yourself a picnic and enjoy a day beside the water with the whole family. The Reserve allows visitors to swim in the lake, enjoy sports on the large grassy area, play on the playground, cycle around the area and walk along the Lake’s foreshore.

9. Peruse the Cromwell Farmers’ Markets

Location:Cromwell, Central Otago

Running every Sunday from 9am to 1pm from Labour Weekend (October) to Easter Weekend is the excellent Cromwell Farmers’ Market. Selling the best produce from local farmers, these markets have more than just a few stalls. With rows of fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers, artisanal products and of course, live music. The atmosphere at the local Cromwell Markets are one to revel in, even though you might not need any fresh produce, it’s worth visiting to enjoy the environment.