Central Otago Experiences – Cromwell and Wanaka Adventures
The pretty and peaceful town of Cromwell is the ideal base for travellers. And that’s because Cromwell is just a short drive from busy Queenstown, Wanaka and those great wine areas.
There really is no better time to stay here than in the beautiful months of Autumn – view details on New Zealand seasons. From April to May, the Autumn golds and reds are just awe-inspiring.
Where to Stay in Cromwell
But a stay in Cromwell is also an excellent choice for repeat travellers. Most of you would have stayed in Queenstown or Wanaka on your first time. So maybe, you’re a bit over the resort towns where peace can be a foreign concept. Even if this is not your first time to New Zealand, we would strongly recommend going on day visits to these busier places. And if you’re not hotel people, a self-contained cottage like this, might just be what you are looking for.
Burn Cottages Retreat
This is a special oasis that really does live up to its name. Burn Cottage Retreat sits on a huge acreage. You will very quickly get a sense of tranquility here. There are only 3 cottages on this large property and they are quite a good distance away from each other. We stayed in the Moonlight Cottage. I guarantee, if you are looking for space, you will find it here. And after a long drive, your cottage will be warm when you step in. Co-owner, Cecelia, will have lit the fire a few hours before you arrive. This type of service is so appreciated, especially in the colder months of Autumn.
Yet again, it really is about those special touches that only a boutique accommodation can provide. Beautiful walnuts in a bowl just waiting to be cracked. And do not be surprised if you Cecelia appears at your door with hot scones!
All the mod cons are here with the very latest Nespresso coffee machine gracing the kitchen bench. The comfort level pretty much goes up a notch with this comfy super king size bed
After breakfast (a continental breakfast is optional) do take time out to explore the grounds. There are very special little nooks and crannies where you can hide away and read a book.
With only 3 cottages on the entire property, you will find a special place where you can truly enjoy solitude.
What to do if you’re staying in Cromwell
Grab a bike at the cottage or take your car into the historic part of Cromwell. It is here, you can become fully immersed with the landscape. You will love the most spectacular views at Lake Dunstan – plus the relaxed small-town vibe.
Take a wander around at your leisure to the old shops. These old buildings are heritage protected and have been restored for future generations. Pop into the Seed & Grain Store for a coffee and a chat with the locals. Everyone here seems to be friendly.
Jet Boat Tour from Wanaka
There is a Jet Boat company in Wanaka called Wanaka River Journeys. This company are owned and operated by a local family. They have a number jet boating options, one of which is called Jet Boat and Wilderness Walk. This one is a great option if you are a little time short. It is a half-day tour and an absolute blast!
There is nothing more exhilarating than jet-boating down the Matukituki River.
And you will really get off the beaten track here. You will have a 50-minute walk that will take you through moss covered forest and waterfalls.
Yet again, you will see firsthand another location that was used for the LOTR films. And you will get to heat the wonderful stories about this landscape. You will have so many photo opportunities. And often on these trips you will come across something totally unexpected – like this apple tree thriving in the middle of nowhere!
Vineyard Trike Tours
We paid a visit to a Wanaka B & B accommodation named Copper Beach – and found an unexpected gem. The owners, Yvette & Ian led us to their large garage and look what we found – this shining beauty! So if you are looking for a wine tour with a difference, you might consider a Trike wine tour.
Especially on a hot summer’s day, it would be so good to engage all your senses.
Where to Eat in Central Otago
There are so many vineyards around Cromwell and the Bannockburn area nearby. And many of them provide great lunch restaurants overlooking their vineyards. In fact, a lot of these wineries will provide amazing lunch platters. Wooing Tree, Mount Difficulty and Scott Base are just a few of them. Now for night dining you will get a choice of some great options. We have heard some wonderful things about Kika in Wanaka. However, if you want to immerse yourself in the local scene, you can’t go past the historic Bannockburn Hotel.
The Bannockburn Hotel is about 8 kms out of Cromwell. They have included separate tapas menu – plus the biggest wine list you will ever see. We dined here recently and can’t say enough good things about the food. The atmosphere was wonderful – definitely not your usual pub decor. And it is worth mentioning, that they also have a courtesy shuttle van that will pick you up and drop you off.
There are so many reasons why Autumn is such a wonderful time to visit Central Otago. There are less people around and plenty of adventures to be had. It is actually a time when nature is at its finest before settling down for a well deserved nap.
Check out some sample South Island travel itineraries.
Happy Travelling through Mid Canterbury!