Learn whether it is worth staying in Cromwell and see what you can do around Cromwell.
Cromwell is a little town located in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand.
It lies approximately 423 km (263 mi) from Christchurch, 222 km (138 mi) from Dunedin, 60 km (37 mi) from Queenstown, 54 km (34 mi) from Wanaka, and 32 km (20 mi) from Alexandra.
Cromwell is not that popular with tourists, because there isn’t much to do there. But it is so centrally located that it amazes me the place does not get more tourists staying there.
From Cromwell, you can easily and fairly quickly get to Queenstown, Wanaka, Lindis Pass, or Alexandra. Cromwell is:
- A short 20-minute drive from Alexandra, which has nice autumn colors and has a KFC.
- A 20-minute drive from Wanaka, which is not only a popular winter destination for skiing, but also a town that is pretty expensive and that has some of the highest petrol prices in the Southern Lakes region; it is best to fill your tank in Cromwell or Queenstown.
- A 40-minute drive from Queenstown, which is the mecca for activities of all sorts, a busy place, but still one of my favorite places to visit.
- An hour’s drive from Lindis Pass.
Cromwell is not only centrally located, but it has almost everything a small town that caters to visitors should have: Three petrol (gas) stations, one large New World supermarket, several motels, and a small shopping center.
When I do not want to deal with the busyness of Queenstown, I always stay in Cromwell, which is nice, quiet, and has everything I need.
How To Get To Cromwell
You can get to Cromwell only by road. It does not have an airport, neither a railway station. So the quickest way would be to fly to Queenstown, and then drive from Queenstown to Cromwell in about 40 – 45 minutes.
If you cannot fly to Queenstown, your next closest airport would be in Dunedin. And then the drive from Dunedin to Cromwell would be close to 3 hours.
But since not many airlines fly to Dunedin, your surest bet would be to fly to Christchurch. But that would also result in a long drive of about 5 hours to get to Cromwell from Christchurch (also see: driving from Christchurch to Queenstown).
Things To Do Around Cromwell
While Cromwell itself does not offer a lot of activities, there are a couple of places you could visit in the vicinity of Cromwell to see or do things.
The fruit trees in orchards around Cromwell can display nice fall foliage in autumn and blossoms in spring.
Cromwell lies just south of Lake Dunstan. Locals tend to go fishing on Lake Dunstan and also do water activities that require a boat.
For you as a tourist, the most likely options would be to just sit by the lake or photograph it.
Roaring Meg is a location you could briefly stop at when driving from Cromwell to Queenstown on State Highway 6.
In summer, there are fruit stalls nearby Cromwell on State Highway 6 when driving towards Queenstown or towards Wanaka, which you can stop at to buy fruit or go pick your own fruits.
Clyde Dam is a short drive south of Cromwell, which you can briefly stop at on your way to Alexandra or Central Otago and which is a good location as a lookout to see fall foliage in Clyde and Alexandra in autumn.
You could drive to Central Otago and visit Blue Lake in St. Bathans, which is a man-made lake, but nonetheless picturesque and where you can also do a couple of walks.
And finally, if you happen to get bored in Cromwell, you could always drive to either Wanaka or Queenstown where there are more things to see and do.
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