The Must-Dos in Cromwell
Only 50 minutes from Queenstown, the little town of Cromwell is your alternative lakeside hotspot. Known for its fruit production, Cromwell is not only a great place to sample New Zealand cuisine, but it’s also an ideal location for backpackers seeking seasonal work in fruit orchards! On top of that, Cromwell is action-packed with jet boating, gold panning, cycling, hiking and its very own motorsport park. Discover it all on this list of the best things to do in Cromwell!
Be sure to explore the wider area, with some inspiration in our 10 Central Otago Must-Dos!
1. Taste the Fruit in the Fruit Bowl
Come on, Cromwell is known as the “Fruit Bowl of the South” and has a huge sculpture of fruit in the town (which we’ll get more into later). You have to see what all the fuss is about! Get yourself to one of the fruit stalls, such as the Jones Family Fruit Stall or Webb’s Fruit, and try some of the freshest produce you’re ever likely to try!
Location: Jones Family Fruit Stall and Webb’s Fruit is on opposite entrances to the town of Cromwell on State Highway 6.
2. Cycle Along Lake Dunstan
Cromwell is the hub of the Central Otago region, a region full of awesome bike trails showcasing the best of the South Island. Cromwell has a few short rides of its own including the Cromwell to Bannockburn Lakeside Trail. It’s one of the easiest rides in the area and encapsulates some great scenery of Lake Dunstan, Old Cromwell Town and the Kawarau River. The ride ends at Bannockburn Bridge where you can treat yourself at the pub. There are also plenty of 4×4 and single-track bike trails following Lake Dunstan.
Location: Start at the Melmore Marina car park adjacent to Old Cromwell Town and end at the Bannockburn Bridge.
3. Sample Some Central Otago Wine
Central Otago is one of the most popular wine-producing regions in New Zealand. Sample some of that famous Central Otago wine right here in Cromwell at one of the many cellar doors. You’re spoiled for choice with Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room, Mt Difficulty Wines, Wooing Tree Vineyard and Carrick Winery. Just to name a few.
Location: Around Cromwell and Bannockburn – see specific locations in the 10 Best Wineries in Cromwell & Bannockburn.
4. Take a Photo with a Ridiculously Large Bunch of Fruit
It’s hard to visit Cromwell without seeing the huge sculpture of fruit. It’s one of the many towns in New Zealand with BIG things in it, and this one is to celebrate Cromwell’s status as the Fruit Bowl of the South. Get a photo with it and treasure it forever.
Location: Between State Highway 88 and Murray Terrace.
5. Speed Around the Highlands Race Track
In the midst of the fruit orchards and vineyard, Cromwell has a home of epicness: the Highlands Motorsport Park! Jump into one of the supercars and experience true speed around their international standard race track (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Or get behind the wheel yourself on the seriously fun go-kart track (Viator/Tripadvisor).
Location: State Highway 6 and Sandflat Road.
7. Jet Boat on the Kawarau River
On the subject of speed, another adrenaline-fuelled activity in the Cromwell area is jet boating on the Kawarau River. Goldfields Jet will take you along the Kawarau River Gorge complete with near misses with canyon walls and 360° spins. There will be a little gold-mining history to learn about too. Find out more about Goldfields Jet on Viator and Tripadvisor and compare the experience to the other 18 Best Places to Jet Boat in New Zealand.
Location: 803 Kawarau Gorge Road, Kawarau Gorge at the Goldfields Mining Centre.
8. Pan for Gold at the Goldfields Mining Centre
Gold mining is kind of a big deal in the Cromwell area and even after the Otago Gold Rush of the 1860s, you can still find gold in the surrounding rivers. Learn all about it and try your luck at striking gold yourself at the Goldfields Mining Centre. There’s a mix of fun activities here, from self-guided walks of historic gold mining machinery and awesome Kawarau River views to guided tours complete with the gold panning experience.
Location: 803 Kawarau Gorge Road, Kawarau Gorge.
9. Play a Round of Golf
Cromwell is also home to the Cromwell Golf Club, a year-round golf course in the middle of town. Get some travel buddies together and battle it out on the green among pretty views of the surrounding mountains. Choose between 9 holes or 18 holes and get stuck into New Zealand’s most popular participation sport!
Location: The Dunes, Cromwell.
10. Take on the Walking Trails
There are eight fantastic walks in the Cromwell area. They’re a great free way of taking the scenery and seeing some relic of the gold mining history. Check out the Dunstan Lakeside walks for flat and easy strolls alongside this beautiful man-made lake. Or climb high on the Old Reservoir Track (30 minutes one way) that zigzags up to a former reservoir high above Lake Dunstan. And walk the Quartz-Reef Tailings for some interesting gold mining machinery and buildings on this 45-minute walk.
Location: Old Reservoir Track – 3km (2 miles) from the Deadmans Point Bridge over Lake Dunstan. Quartz-Reef Tailings – 8km (5 miles) from Cromwell off State Highway 8 heading to Tarras.
More Must-Dos and Things to Do Near Cromwell
- 12 Super Scenic Cycle Trails in Otago
- The Complete Guide to Alexandra & Clyde
- 10 Fun Things to Do in Alexandra
- 10 Queenstown Must-Dos
That’s it for the best things to do in Cromwell. Find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island.