Central Otago is a region touched by history, with a powerful landscape of ancient mountains, weathered rock formations, alpine herb fields and fast rivers.
A landscape that tells stories of times gone by
In ancient times, Maori travelled through Central Otago on their way to the pounamu rivers of the west coast. Hunting parties also visited the region - they built rafts and used the Clutha River to transport moa and other game back to the east coast.
More recently, in the 1860s, Central Otago was the scene of a gold rush. Trails used by miners can still be seen winding over the hills. Stone cottages, a haunted hotel, cleverly engineered water channels, mines and machinery are other relics to discover. You can still try your luck with a gold pan, or be satisfied with the golden sweetness of a Roxburgh apricot.
Nowadays, Central Otago is the scene of a ‘wine rush’. Pinot Noir has become one of the region’s newest treasures, and many of the wineries welcome visitors for tours and tastings.
Retrace the steps of the hardy gold miners who carved their living from the harsh and often unforgiving environment. Relive their experiences in the museums and historic sites throughout the region.
Premium Pinot Noir
The mountain valley vineyards of the world’s most southerly wine region have excelled in recent years. In particular, the vibrant, spicy flavour and velvety texture of Central Otago Pinot Noir has earned wide acclaim.
Tracks and trails
Around the hills of Central Otago, the hiking tracks are almost endless. Many were created by miners during the gold rush; others lead to alpine herb meadows, secret valleys and strange rock formations.
Allow 1 ½ hours to drive from Queenstown airport to Alexandra. Dunedin airport is a 2 ½ hour drive away.
The region is readily accessible by main highways from Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill, Queenstown and the West Coast via Wanaka.
Many small towns do not have petrol pumps, so make sure you fill your vehicle before visiting more remote areas.During winter - June to August - road conditions will demand extra care and attention by drivers. Ice and snow can be expected.