Guide12 Hours Central Otago

It’s all about dramatic landscape and enchanting seasons in Central Otago.

The Central Otago Rail Trail.

Your guide to the best things to do in Central Otago

With land packed with powerful mountains, flowing rivers, historic buildings and renowned fruit growing, it’s no wonder the locals are so friendly. Who wouldn’t be happy to call Central Otago home?

Morning

Breakfast and coffee at Fusee Rouge café

64B The Mall, Cromwell

Do as the locals do and head to Fusee Rouge café for great coffee, great food and great vibes. With the honour of being the first espresso machine and café in Cromwell, Fusee has been keeping locals caffeinated, using Supreme beans, since 2003.

For food choices, picture an endlessly changing selection of cabinet food, championing locally grown produce. Their Cromwell apple crumble muffins, seasonal soups, pulled pork wraps and jam filled donuts are just some of the items that could greet you upon entry. There’s always plenty of locals hanging around, so it’s a good spot to hear what’s happening locally or getting a bit of advice if you’re a tourist or passing through.

Close up of a plate of food.

Culture at Cromwell Heritage Precinct

Melmore Terrace, Cromwell

Definitely the best kept secret of Cromwell, and even Central Otago, is the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. Located on the shores of Lake Dunstan, this unique heritage attraction is a mix of original and reconstructed buildings dating back to the gold rush of the 1860’. Nowadays, artisan businesses populate some of the buildings and restored museum heritage offerings occupy the others.

A must visit amongst the galleries, shops and cafés is OCTA Gallery located in the Belfast Store Building. OCTA showcases limited edition original prints and works by a mix of local and national artists, all beautifully curated by Chris de Jong. Chris will also happily share his vast knowledge about the artists and his history in printmaking. And if you happen to be around on the weekend, make sure you check out the Cromwell Farmers & Craft Market held there every Sunday 9am - 1pm.

The old post office in Cromwell.

Wine tasting at Carrick Wines

247 Cairnmuir Road, Bannockburn

It wouldn’t be a trip to Central Otago without visiting a winery, and while it’s hard to fit many in 12 hours, it is important to experience the grape the region takes so much pride in - pinot noir. One to visit for a more relaxed and boutique experience is Carrick Wines. Founded in 2000, Carrick Wines is a small winery with a focus on quality Pinot Noir and Organic Farming.

Specialising in small production, organically-certified wine, Carrick is about creating wines which are expressive of the land and season. You need to book in a tasting throughout the week, or just call in Friday to Sunday, when the restaurant is open.

Next make your way to Alexandra for lunch.

The vineyard.

Lunch

Lunch at The Courthouse Café

8 Centennial Avenue, Alexandra

A bit of an institution in Alexandra is The Courthouse Café, set in Alexandra's original Courthouse built in 1876. Reopened and refreshed in 2009, The Courthouse is all about comfort food done well in a relaxed dining experience. They offer an array of delicious in-house baked goods and menu items options like brisket burger, chicken and leek pie and pork spare ribs.

A burger on a plate.

Afternoon

Shaky Bridge Short Walk

Shaky Bridge

Leaving Alexandra township, this short walk to the iconic Alexandra clock, which has served the town since 1968, is a great way to walk off lunch and take in the local sights. It also crosses over the historic Shaky Bridge (the name says it all) and then passes through vineyards before heading up the hill. The return journey should take around one hour.

Next make your way to Clyde.

Wander the historic streets of Clyde

Clyde

Moving on to the small historic and beautiful town of Clyde, take the time here to wander the streets and explore the rich gold mining heritage and historic buildings. As well as being known for its gold, Clyde also includes a number of stone fruit orchards, vineyards and a backdrop of the Clutha River.

There’s a number of cafes, retail stores and galleries to peruse too, including Folklore Fine Goods which opened in 2016 and inspires customers with a range of artisan quality home goods and accessories, sourced from local makers and around the world. A stone's throw away is Eade Gallery, a space that represents mainly Central Otago artists with a focus on the beauty of the region's landscape. As well as paintings, the gallery includes jewellery, ceramics, photography and more. 

The historic streets of Clyde.

Evening

Dinner at Olivers Restaurant

34 Sunderland Street, Clyde

Occupying the originally named The Victoria Store, which dates back to 1863, Olivers restaurant is one of a trio of businesses including a Merchant of Clyde, a café-bakery-delicatessen and the Victoria Store Brewery, that inhabit this historic spot. The restaurant is set between the original stone walls, and with a roaring fire and dishes focussed on local produce by Head chef, James Waite, it’s hard to beat this experience on a cold Central Otago night. To wash it all down, The Victoria Store Brewery produces a range of craft beers in the custom built brewery next door.

The exterior of Olivers Restaurant.

Culture at Clyde Cinema

6a Naylor Street, Clyde

To finish off what will have been an epic day, head to Clyde Cinema and sit back and relax with a drink in hand, and catch one of the latest flicks at this boutique 42 seater cinema that dates back to the more recent times of 2013. 

The exterior of Clyde Cinema.

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