A Remarkable Drop (or two…)

Peonies at Lake Dunstan, Old Cromwell
Peonies at Lake Dunstan, Old Cromwell

As well as thrills and spills, the Queenstown area is also known for its drops – the wines of Central Otago. Originally a gold-mining region, these days the land provides for some mighty fine liquid riches – pinot noir, I’m looking at you.

On Saturday the Queenstown Marathon was on, so the timing was right to get out of town. We were fortunate enough to have a designated driver and fabulous tour guides, so buckle up and you can tag along.


The big bowl of fruit at Cromwell
The big bowl of fruit at Cromwell

Nicknamed the Fruit Bowl of the South, much of Cromwell was relocated to higher ground when the Clyde Dam was constructed and Lake Dunstan filled, flooding the old town. There’s now a great outdoors mall, and the town itself has everything needed to service the surrounding area.


The relocated “old town” on the banks of Lake Dunstan is well worth a visit. It’s a lovely spot for a browse or a cuppa…or both.


Pretty, isn’t it?



These are everywhere at the moment – both cultivated (like these ones), and growing wild by the sides of the road. I suppose that officially they are weeds, but they’re very pretty ones.


Wild Thyme


Speaking of weeds, wild thyme grows all through these parts. As you walk amongst it, the fragrance is released into the air.


These pics were taken just around Bannockburn where the evidence of gold mining has been replaced by scenes like these. Just gorgeous.

Hillside in Bannockburn
Hillside in Bannockburn



Cromwell is pretty well on the 45th parallel south, and making wine this far south apparently isn’t easy. The results are, however, remarkable. See how I did that: used the word remarkable again?

Mt Difficulty

We visited and tasted at Rockburn, Mt Difficulty and Akarua. I’ve long been a fan of Mt Difficulty, and sampled more than my fair share of Akarua’s pinot on track (let’s not talk about the size of my bar bill in the lodges- let’s just say life in the lodges was comfy), so it was great to try more of their range. Peregrine is another of my favourites, although we didn’t visit this time.



the view from lunch
the view from lunch

Lunch stop was at Carrick- another purveyor of fine pinots, with some great art work on display too.


They also happen to have a fabulous terraced area that is perfect for nibbling away at platters.


Crown Range

That's Queenstown away in the distance
That’s Queenstown away in the distance

This is the highest main road in New Zealand and the most picturesque way of getting between Queenstown and Wanaka – not that we were going as far as Wanaka, but you get the idea. A road this high means some pretty impressive views.


Cardona Hotel


Possibly one of the most instagrammed hotels in NZ, this is also an easy to settle in for the afternoon type of pub. On the Crown Range road, 40 mins from Queenstown and 20mins from Wanaka, this was also our last stop for the day. The beer garden seemed to be a popular choice for post marathon reward and relaxation.


Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

2 thoughts

  1. Interestingly one of my friends (who I met when I moved here, but who left for Melbourne over a year ago) was in Queenstown for the marathon. She was to be running but was injured but still went to cheer friends on.

    I’ll be in NZ in a week and half!

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