A modern town steeped in rich history. View the Cromwell map here
Located on the shores of Lake Dunstan, Cromwell has the appearance of a modern town, but its history stretches back to the gold rush days of the late 1800s when gold was discovered just below the junction of the Clutha and Kawarau rivers by two miners, Horatio Hartley and Christopher Reilly. Once word got out, there was a huge influx of several thousand miners into the area, and the town of Cromwell was born. As time went on and the gold ran out, Cromwell transitioned into a thriving town servicing the burgeoning farming and stone fruit industries, earning its reputation as the ‘fruit bowl of the south’ – over summer the roadside fruit stalls are a delicious temptation.
In the 1980’s, Cromwell underwent a transformation change with the construction of the Clyde Dam. When the dam was completed in 1992, the valley behind it was flooded to create Lake Dunstan and, as a result, the original site of Cromwell’s historic business district at the junction of the Kawarau and Clutha Rivers was completely flooded and a new town centre built around an open-air mall.
Cromwell’s Heritage Precinct is one of Central Otago’s best-kept secrets. When the Clyde Dam was completed in 1990, the town’s main street disappeared under the newly formed Lake Dunstan. However, some of the historic buildings dating back to the gold rush of the 1860’s were saved and lovingly rebuilt on higher ground, creating the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. A walk around these streets is like stepping back in time into the gold rush era; the heritage buildings, now host a selection of boutique shops, art galleries, and cosy cafes all located on the shore of beautiful Lake Dunstan.
Every Sunday morning, from Labour Weekend until Easter, Cromwell hosts a bustling Farmers’ and Craft Market within the Heritage Precinct, where you can meet and mingle with local producers selling fresh produce and artisan crafts. Enjoying great takeaway food and coffee in picture-perfect setting, this lively market brings together a selection of the best of Central Otago food and craft, all with a background of live music.
Cromwell has numerous parks, and access to Lake Dunstan at many points for boating and waterskiing Close to the town centre there is an indoor swimming pool, extensive sports fields, netball and tennis courts, and an all-weather hockey turf. There is a skate park, fishing in the lake and rivers, and cycle trails around the lake’s edge and in the mountains for the more adventurous. Four ski fields can be reached in just over an hour. Cromwells 18-hole Championship Golf course is widely considered to be one of the best inland links courses in New Zealand, and within one hours drive are three of New Zealands best golf courses – Jacks Point, Millbrook and The Hills.
In the past 20 years, wine and tourism have really taken hold in Cromwell, with currently more than 25 vineyards and wineries in the immediate area. The region enjoys a world-renowned reputation for producing award-winning wine – especially Pinot Noir. The Cromwell basin is home to a host of award-winning wineries where you can sample some of the regions finest vintages while taking in the spectacular scenery. You’re spoiled for choice with Misha’s Vineyard Tasting Room, Mt Difficulty Wines, Wooing Tree Vineyard, Carrick Winery… Just to name a few.
Over the next few years Cromwell and its environs are predicted to experience unprecedented growth. Its unique location, being equidistant from Queenstown and Wanaka and guarding the main gateway from Dunedin and Christchurch, makes Cromwell the most accessible centre in the region – and the closest town to all the vineyards, all the ski fields, and all wonderful outdoor scenery and activities Central Otago has to offer.
With the move to get out of the big cities and head to a lifestyle destination, Wooing Tree Estate is a brand new neighbourhood that has attracted the interest of families from across the country as well as from expats and retirees. A great place to bring up kids, live and work from home remotely or retire in. A special neighbourhood, surrounded by vines, green lanes and open space, and where the kids can walk to school. Where you can take a walk around the lake, go water skiing or fishing, climb a mountain, ride a mountain bike – then go out to one of a multitude of local restaurants or vineyards for dinner. It’s all right on your doorstep.
Spanning 25ha and offering exceptional sites in a prime location, Stage 1 of Wooing Tree Estate is now sold out, with Stage 2 selling fast. Stage 3 will activate the tourism and hospitality quarter, as well as further residential.