Short Breaks: Central Otago

Queenstown is launch pad for the Central Otago experience and gateway to such an enticing region that short stays often become long holidays.

Wine tour in vines
Kinross Wine Tour
Stacked wine barrels in the cave at Gibbston Valley Cave, Central Otago.
Gibbston Valley Cave, Gibbston Valley
People cycling over bridge
Rail Trail credit: Miles Holden
Lake Wanaka

Flying into Queenstown is an experience in itself, but hire a car and head into the dramatic landscapes of Central Otago and you’re instantly in another world. This place is as far from the sea as you can get in New Zealand and boasts the hottest, coldest and driest climate. It was once crowded with gold-rush fortune seekers but today Central Otago’s claim to fame is gold award-winning Pinot Noir.  It’s not only the world’s southern-most wine growing region but also New Zealand’s fastest-developing wine region - and it’s easy to see why.  Join a wine tour or follow a wine trail and taste the difference that this unique soil and continental climate brings to grapes grown here.  There’s nothing like a Central Otago pinot noir to toast a great day on the ski slopes or an adventure in this outdoor playground with its colourful gold-mining past.


Don’t miss:

  • Central Otago’s founding winery, Gibbston Valley - offers the ultimate in relaxed luxury, fine wine, culinary excellence and 5- star personal service
  • The multi-day Otago Central Rail Trail - popular with leisure cyclists as are the two newer Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold cycling and walking trails
  • Cromwell’s 4 Barrels Walking Wine Trail – a self-paced, free walking tour of four of Central Otago’s premium wine tasting rooms – Misha’s Vineyard, Aurum Wines, Scott Base and Wooing Tree Wines
  • Visit a local orchard – depending on season – apricots and cherries are the specialty here
  • Walk up to Alexandra’s clock on the hill – at 11 metres wide it is one of the largest in the world
  • Lake Roxburgh is a great venue for kayaking, boating, water skiing or just plain sailing
  • Real Dog Adventures – a sled ride and personal encounter with Alaskan Malamute Dogs
  • Highlands Motorsport Park - sit alongside a professional race driver on a Supercar Fast Dash reaching 100km/h in just three seconds
  • Naseby – New Zealand’s ice sports hub – has the southern hemisphere’s only Olympic-standard curling facility and natural luge track.


Getting there:

Fly to Queenstown from Auckland (1h 30m); from Wellington (1h 20m); from Christchurch (1h 15m); from Sydney (2h 50m). Drive from Dunedin (3hours); from Christchurch (5 hours).


For more New Zealand Short Breaks...

Story Central Otago
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