Affectionately called ‘Central’ by those that know it well, Central Otago is New Zealand’s most inland region, located in the southern half of the South Island. The relaxed pace, unrivalled scenery of Central Otago, seasonal weather, space, solitude and wide range of recreational opportunities attract locals and overseas visitors alike. Many Central Otago visitors hire a motorhome or mountain bike to explore the region at their own pace. This way you can see some of the region’s more remote sites, taste the seasonal flavours and absorb the incredible scenery that you will often have all to yourself.
It’s breathtakingly different with vast undulating landscapes, rugged snow-capped mountains, clear blue rivers, deep gorges and tussock-clad hills.
The area is known for its cycle trails. The 150 km Central Otago Rail Trail follows the route of the old railway; cycle from station to station staying in places little touched by modern hustle and bustle. The Roxburgh Gorge Trail and Clutha Gold Trail also offer unique experiences deep in the heart of Central Otago. If you're not up for cycling, you might like to go wildflower walking in Alexandra, wander through the Cromwell Historic Precinct, take a cruise on Lakes Dunstan and Roxburgh or go curling in Naseby.
In the summer time as you drive anywhere you will see signs advertising pick-your-own fruit. There is an abundance of fresh cherries, plums, apricots, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries and many more.
In the 1860s this was a place of gold; you can still pan for it amongst the miners' old trails, stone cottages and relics of mine machinery. But the gold today in Central Otago is wine. Pinot Noir, that most fickle of grape varieties, excels in these southernmost vineyards and most of the wineries offer tours and tastings.