Best 1 Day Summer Road Trip Series: Cromwell, Clyde & Alexandra
The Gold Mining Route
As a Queenstown local, I have to admit to a little shoulder shrug when I think about voluntarily heading to Cromwell and/or Alexandra. It’s always been more of a ‘why bother’ type of rhetorical question.
But the truth of the matter is, there is a lot to be bothered about. As an emerging tourism hotspot, and if you are a true explorer and open to getting off that well-trodden tourist trail, then Cromwell and Alexandra have a lot to offer.
Let’s start with the furthest point – Alexandra. The commute there is spectacular so be prepared for a great journey through the canyons of Gibbston Valley, past a multitude of vineyards, through Cromwell and around Lake Dunstan (we’ll be coming back here later), along the Clutha River, past Clyde and into “Alex”.
Founded in the Gold Rush era, the town has an intense history of trade, mining and fruit growing. More recently there has been an explosion into viticulture. Enjoy a walk around the river, sneak a bike ride on the Rail Trail and visit the local museum.
Clyde is a beautiful snapshot of what NZ looked like during the 1800’s gold rush. The streets in this historic township are lined with beautiful stone houses and small streets. But be careful, if you sneeze you could easily drive right past it. BUT, no trip to Alex would be complete without a wee detour through Clyde. There are a few great café’s so maybe your mid morning snack and coffee?
If you are about during Easter, then the Clyde Food Festival is an absolute must do – not negotiable!
Emerging as a major force in the destination wine and food sector, Cromwell has a whole host of amazing vineyards to explore. In fact, you could just head to Cromwell and do a vineyard tour all on its own, stopping for lunch and enjoying the sweeping vistas of lakes, snow-capped mountains and expansive terrain studded with vineyards. Oh, and the lake…..and the mighty rivers that flow both in and out!
There is much to do and see but plan on taking in the following:
A vineyard lunch. Local Cromwell vineyards have perfected art of locally produced, grown, hunted, garden to plate ‘shared platters’, matched to their spectacular wines.
Cromwell Heritage Precinct. Step back in time to the gold rush and explore heritage buildings, many with artisan businesses in them, located on the shore of beautiful Lake Dunstan.
Bannockburn & Tarras. Great detours off the beaten track. Both locations are real local historic townships with the later being not much more than a travellers outpost.
Approx. Transit Times
Queenstown to Alex 1hr30mins
Alex to Clyde 5 mins
Clyde to Cromwell 25 mins
Cromwell to Queenstown – 1hr
Possible Day Itinerary (would look something like this):
Direction: Queenstown – Alexandra – Clyde – Cromwell - Queenstown
08:30am – Depart Queenstown and head for Alex
09:30am – Museum
10:30am – Quick walk around Alex by foot
11:30am – Depart for Clyde
13:00pm – Depart for Cromwell (vineyard lunch)
16:00pm – Head to Cromwell’s old town
17:00pm – Head back to Queenstown
Happy exploring folks!