In the deep heartland of Central Otago lies a modern town which is recognised as the ‘Cherry Capital of New Zealand’.
Cromwell stands on the shores of Lake Dunstan, the vast hydro lake formed by the Clyde Dam. This town is further from the sea than any other place in New Zealand. Its is surrounded by broad tussock hills, dotted with sweet brier roses and jagged schist tors. This results in hot dry summer growing conditions, that ripen stone fruit to perfection. Roadside stalls enjoy a thriving trade. Entering the town you know immediately what its speciality is, as a giant fibreglass sculpture of delicious ripe fruit towers above the highway. An icon to tempt the taste buds in the ‘Fruit Bowl’ of the south.
Cromwell offers a friendly welcome to all travellers at the combined visitor centre and museum situated in The Mall. History buffs will be intrigued by the gold mining era, when Chinese prospectors camped deep in the Kawarau Gorge, and sluicing operations transformed the landscape. Others will be fascinated by the submerging of the Old Cromwell town site beneath the lake, and the relocation of original buildings on the lake front terrace.
Here in Cromwell you can feel right at home, with the balmy summer days encouraging a relaxed lifestyle; sipping wine at a local vineyard, sampling sumptuous bowls of fruit, or simply idling the time away visiting cafès and browsing craft shops.
Adrenalin addicts are catered for with mountain biking on tortuous trails, and fishing, boating and water-skiing on Lake Dunstan. If you want to live life on the edge there’s skydiving, canyoning, river surfing, mountain climbing or bungy jumping off the Kawarau Bridge or the colossal Nevis High Wire.
The Kawarau Gorge Mining Centre is a ‘must see’ attraction. Sited on an original alluvial mining claim, it has a stamper battery and replica Chinese village. You can pan for gold on a working claim, and also ride a jet boat in the white-water gorge below the site.
Take time to explore Cromwell and its historic surroundings and enjoy the unique pleasures of this ‘timeless’ land.