12 Best Things To Do In and Around Cromwell, New Zealand

things to do in cromwell nz
| 5 min read

Cromwell is a lakeside service town that grew with the discovery of gold in 1862. Originally located at the intersection of rivers Clutha and Kawaru, the town had to relocate to higher banks as a result of the Clyde Dam’s construction which flooded its main streets. Today, it is fruits rather than gold that springs forth from Cromwell’s grounds, but the town remains as vibrant as it was 150 years ago. But that doesn’t make Cromwell any less than a good travel destination. There are a plethora of parks, orchards, and natural wonders that make a visit to this town still worthwhile. There are even Bookabach holiday homes available as well. If you’re curious about what Cromwell has to offer, here is a list of the best things to do in and around Cromwell, New Zealand.

1. Roaring Meg Lookout

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Roaring Meg is a stream that powers the Roaring Meg Dam. Because of this, you’ll find two hydroelectric power stations as you travel down the stream. Take in not only the beautiful sights and sounds of nature, the woodland, and the stream but also the magnificent sight of the hydroelectric dam.

At the end of your trek is the lookout that showcases a wonderful view of the area, which makes for a great place for a photoshoot, a fitting reward after a hike.

Roaring Meg Lookout

Address: 6 Kawarau Gorge Road, Cromwell 9384, New Zealand

Opening hours: Open 24 hours (daily)

2. Cheeki Cherries

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Do you like cherries? If the answer is yes, then Cheeki Cherries has you covered. This Cromwell attraction is a family-owned cherry orchard that takes pride in producing export-grade cherries for people to enjoy. The orchard describes its 22 varieties of white and dark cherries as crunchy and delicious.

Although, the main selling point of this orchard is not just its remarkable cherries but also allowing guests to wander the orchard itself and harvest these cherries for themselves. There are also apricots, peaches, and nectarines available for harvest as well.

Cheeki Cherries

Address: 216 Ripponvale Road, Cromwell 9384, New Zealand

Website: Cheeki Cherries

3. Paintball Central

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Hi competition complete here the answer 5 Congratulations to all the winners please come and collect your prize

Posted by Paintball Central on Saturday, October 3, 2020

Those who love paintball are in for a treat at Paintball Central. This 10-acre (4-hectare) battlefield offers visitors a thrilling, adrenaline-fueled experience as they use all kinds of tactics to survive the match.

Paintball Central has three fields where players can battle it out. Two of them are for bush ball and the third one is a shanty town composed of 60 shops and alleyways. If you’re wondering what to do in Cromwell and want something different and thrilling, then maybe a few rounds of paintball is what you need.

Paintball Central

Address: 1 Bannockburn Road, Cromwell 9384, New Zealand

Website: Paintball Central

Opening hours: 10am - 3pm (daily)

4. Kiwi Water Park

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Kiwi Water Park on Thursday, December 23, 2021

Described as New Zealand’s largest and most exciting inflatable water park, Kiwi Water Park is a water park in Lake Dunstan filled to the brim with inflatables. Enjoy a one-of-a-kind swimming adventure as you jump around the inflatable slides, obstacles, and many more. Because of this, the park is the perfect place for the entire family, especially for the little ones as there is a kiddie splash park area.

Do know that all swimmers are required to wear Kiwi Water Park grip socks as the inflatables are all slippery due to the water. Although lifeguards are stationed around the park and all swimmers are provided a life vest, visitors are still required to know how to swim to enter the park.

Kiwi Water Park

Address: Lowburn Harbour, Lowburn 9384, New Zealand

Website: Kiwi Water Park

5. Cromwell Heritage Precinct

Historic Cromwell
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user CHCBOY used under CC BY-SA 4.0

In 1982, construction of Clyde Dam began to meet the region’s burgeoning demand for energy. Faced with imminent destruction of their beloved main street, a group of Cromwell residents sought to shift some of the original buildings to higher grounds to preserve a piece of their heritage. Their painstaking efforts laid the foundation for the Cromwell Heritage Precinct.

Strolling past the stone-hewn structures and wood-planked shopfronts, you might hear the occasional clip and rattle of a horse-drawn wagon. Galleries, artisanal boutiques, and cafes are housed in many of these Victorian-style buildings today, injecting life once more into the old structures. Between October and March, this vitality spills onto the streets in the form of the Central Otago Farmers & Craft Market, held every Sunday.

Cromwell Heritage Precinct

Address: Melmore Terrace, Cromwell 9310, New Zealand

Website: Cromwell Heritage Precinct

6. Cromwell Museum

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

To understand Cromwell’s vivid history in detail, the Cromwell museum is a must-visit. The museum offers insight to how the town grew from its heady gold-rush days in the 1800s, into the quintessential Victorian town of farmers and orchardists. Clyde Dam’s construction as well as the town’s disgruntlement preceding it are also well documented here.

Do check out the intriguing collection of artifacts unearthed by the dam builders on display. From agricultural machineries to Maori bones, gold mining tools to Chinese relics, the exhibits at the Cromwell Museum prove that there is more than meets the eye in this tranquil town.

Cromwell Museum

Address: 47 Cromwell Service Centre, Cromwell 9310, New Zealand

Website: Cromwell Museum

7. Lake Dunstan

Blue Waters of Lake Dunstan
Source: Photo by Flickr user Jocelyn Kinghorn used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The magnificent Lake Dunstan was formed as a consequence of Clyde Dam. It is synonymous with Cromwell for good reason. Because Cromwell is the most landlocked settlement in the country, the lake was designed from the start to provide plenty of recreational opportunities for the townsfolk.

Lake Dunstan is an azure oasis for all sorts of water-based Cromwell activities, such as skiing, boating and swimming. As one of the safest lakes in New Zealand, you can expect a constant stream of locals and vacationers milling around its banks all year round. In summer especially, the vitality around the area is doubled. Be it fishermen casting their line far into the lake’s depths or families picnicking along the lake front, these are all part of the everyday scenery. A beautifully restored 1929 wooden motor boat is also available for cruises on the lake.

Lake Dunstan

Website: Lake Dunstan

8. Mrs Jones Orchard

Cromwell Giant Fruit
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mattinbgn used under CC BY 3.0

Perhaps it is the patches upon patches of orchards bursting with produce, or perhaps it is the giant fruit sculptures greeting you as you enter the town centre; whatever it is, Cromwell’s reputation as the ‘fruit bowl of New Zealand’ is hard to miss.

Mrs Jones is a stalwart of Cromwell’s fruit-growing community. Her roadside shop is stocked with tantalizing produce all year round, and is a popular stopover for those traveling to and from Queenstown. Depending on the season, you can find peaches and nectarines dense with syrup, berries ripe with saccharine juice, and of course kiwifruits revealing glorious greens and golds.

If you have time, book an orchard tour to learn about farming in Cromwell and have a go at harvesting your own fruits. A real-fruit ice cream cone is highly recommended at the end!

Mrs Jones Orchard Tour

Address: 489 Kawarau Gorge Road, Cromwell 9384

Website: Mrs Jones Orchard

9. Aurum Wines Tour

For the wine connoisseurs, Cromwell appeals for a different reason. The region boasts the most plots of vines within Central Otago, and is one of NZ’s key wine producing region. Viticulture thrives in the Cromwell basin because of its favorable climate, comparable to wine meccas of the world such as Burgundy in France (which so happens to be where Aurum’s current owners met!).

Aurum Wines is managed by the Lawrence family who first planted their grapes on the Pisa Flats 20 years ago. As one of the preeminent Pinot makers in the region, the winery is committed to using only organic methods to ensure the sustainability and quality of their vines.

A Winemaker Tour at Aurum’s lets you sample some of the sweet notes unique to Central Otago, accompanied by a platter of beautifully aged cheese. Following which, you will be led on a private tour of the estate where you might get a glimpse of the snow-capped Pisa Mountains in the distance.

Aurum Wines Tour

Address: 140 State Highway 6, Cromwell 9384, New Zealand

Website: Aurum Wines Tour

10. Highlands Motorsport Park

Highlands Motorsport Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pedeyk used under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you think Cromwell is a sedated town, think again. Drop by Highlands Motorsport Park to experience the pure power of a reverberating engine. Make your mark on the go-kart leader board, or kick the adrenaline up a notch on the production-grade race cars. Hard-core car junkies might even want to splurge on the once in a lifetime chance of riding in an Aston Martin Vulcan with Tony Quinn, and feel the purr of the mechanic beast tamed at the hands of the motorsport legend.

For the kids, Highlands also has a Jurassic Forest Safari Tour where the little ones can get close to creatures looming out of the prehistoric age. And just when you think the day is over, a quirky car-sculpture park next to the tracks is the perfect way to wind down after all the excitement.

Highlands Motorsport Park

Address: SH6 & Sandflat Road, Cromwell 9342, New Zealand

Website: Highlands Motorsport Park

11. Goldfields Jet Tour

Kawarau River, New Zealand (2)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michal Klajban used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Goldfields Jet Tour is another one for the thrill seekers. The experience begins with a steep descend down to the river edge, before you are strapped in for a rip-roaring 40min ride through the crystalline rapids of the Kawarau River. Be prepared for the cool shock of water with each expert manoeuvre past towering boulders and jagged cliff edges. Even as a spectator from the bridge, Kawarau’s surge of raw hydropower is palpable.

More than just a joyride, the jet tour also provides an animated commentary on the region’s rich gold mining history. Kawarau was the epicentre of the Otago Gold Rush in the 1860s. Remnants of miner’s cottages are visible on either side of the gushing river, as are the precarious pulley systems used to haul goods and people across the canyons. Those with keener eyes might just be able to pick out the entrance of the mine shafts set amongst the rugged terrain.

Goldfields Jet Tour

Address: Kawarau Gorge SH6, Cromwell, New Zealand

Website: Goldfields Jet Tour

12. Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings 4
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Cbabs used under CC BY-SA 4.0

For a closer inspection of how gold mining has altered the landscape, strap on your boots for a tramp through the Bannockburn Sluicings. The sluicings were once a network of water rivulets that sliced through the gold field to feed the various prospecting sites. While it has been nearly a decade since the mines fell silent, you can still see haunting traces of the dams, mud houses, and tunnels scattered around the rocky hills.

The Bannockburn Sluicings are connected by loop tracks of varying difficulties. It also branches off the Central Otago cycle trail so bikers can challenge themselves on the undulating terrain, even as they admire relics from the region’s fascinating history.

Bannockburn Sluicings

Website: Bannockburn Sluicings

Cromwell's hidden charms

Cromwell New Zealand October 2013
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mattinbgn used under CC BY 3.0

At Cromwell, orchards brim with succulent fruits, vines produce internationally-acclaimed nectar, and the past is faithfully preserved for future generations. For its food, history, and attractions, Cromwell deserves to be more than a gas stop between Queenstown and Wanaka. Treat yourself to a leisurely day by Lake Dunstan, or indulge in a tasting of fruit and wine at the local orchards. These are after all quintessential kiwi experiences.

Frequently asked questions about things to do in Cromwell, NZ

1. Which are the best attractions to visit in Cromwell?

Cromwell has a lot of wonderful attractions that are sure to make your vacation a worthwhile and memorable one. For some of the best attractions you can visit, we recommend Roaring Meg Lookout, Kiwi Water Park, Cromwell Heritage Precinct, Lake Dunstan, and Highlands Motorsport Park.

2. Which are the best activities in Cromwell?

There are a plethora of fun activities in Cromwell, thanks to its numerous attractions. Some of these activities are having a paintball match at Paintball Central, visiting Mrs. Jones Orchard, going on Aurum Wines Tour, and checking out Bannockburn Sluicings.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Jacquelyn is a writer based in sunny Singapore. Growing up, the East-meets-West culture of her birthplace never ceases to fascinate her. Some of her best adventures include sharing a toilet with a...Read more

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