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Central Otago
   
 
Located in the centre of the South Island, inland from Dunedin, this semi-arid region comprises a series of river basins and deep river gorges. This region includes the towns of Cromwell and Alexandria.

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  Otago is often called the golden country due to its goldmining associations, vivid autumn colours and apricot orchards. The Central Otago region is the only area in New Zealand to experience a continental climate, having the hottest summers and coldest winters in New Zealand. It is a landscape of bare brown hills, tussock and briar, purple thyme and mountains of schist, broad basins and fertile valleys, and of gorges carved by the Clutha and Kawarau rivers.
In the 1860s , Central Otago was the scene of a gold rush. Trails used by thousands of miners can still be seen winding over the hills, along with stone cottages, cleverly-engineered water channels, mines and machinery associated with the gold rush. Around the hills of Central Otago, the hiking tracks are almost endless. Alexandra, the main town on the Clutha River is the centre for stone fruit, particularly golden apricots. The towns of Alexandra, Clyde and Cromwell are ideal bases from which to explore the surrounding historic countryside. Home to the merino and deer farmer, to orchards and vineyards, to artists and artisans and to those, tempted by the landscape and history, climate and location and the myriad of pursuits offered on land and water.
The Clyde Dam, commissioned in 1993, resulted in the formation Lake Dunstan, which is roughly 40 m above the original river level. The pristine waters of Lake Dunstan has an extensive range of recreational activities with the provision of boat ramps, jetties, picnic areas and walking tracks. It is a popular lake for family groups wanting to go boating, windsurfing, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. The Kawarau river drains Lake Wakatipu at Frankton and flows to Cromwell where it joins Lake Dunstan. Characterised by rapids, especially in its middle reaches, it is a swiftly flowing river dropping 145 metres in its 56km course. The most notable tributaries are the Shotover, Arrow and Nevis Rivers. The steep slopes of the Kawarau gorge, over 1200 m high, are contrasted by the flat valley area of Gibbston, the small plain near Victoria Bridge, and the expansive Cromwell Flats. Most of the beauty of the gorge is not visible as you drive along the highway. Find a safe place to park your vehicle if you intend to have a closer look, but please be careful! 
     
Main attractions & activities



  Exploring the heritage trails, quaint mining towns, historic sites is the most rewarding activity in this region. Most activities are associated with this, such as four-wheel drive safari excursions and gold panning. Jet boating trips are a popular activity on the Kawarau and Clutha rivers.
Central Otago is the fastest growing wine region in New Zealand and the growth in the number of new vineyards in this region has been dramatic. The regions Pinot Noir has earned wide acclaim and the operating vineyards are open to the Public for tastings. 
     
To get there
  Cromwell is strategically located for easy day trips. Driving distances to the following towns as follows: Queenstown 50 minutes, Wanaka 45 minutes, Arrowtown 25 mins




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