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Cardrona Arrowtown Tarras Day Trip

From the Wanaka township take the turn-off to head up the Cardrona Valley through farmland and surrounded by outstanding natural mountain landscapes. You’ll soon arrive in Cardrona, an old gold mining location, now home to the historic Cardrona Hotel. Past here, the narrowing valley leads you through golden tussock country to the source of the Cardrona River and the Crown Range Saddle.

This is a good spot to stop for photos with spectacular views over the Wakatipu Basin. Descend to the Crown Range lookout and into the Wakatipu Basin on the way to the historic town of Arrowtown, set beside the Arrow River.

Take time to explore here before heading through the Kawarau Gorge to Bannockburn to enjoy numerous orchards, wineries, old gold tailings and secluded lakeside picnic spots. Head through Cromwell and along the side of Lake Dunstan with its big mountain vistas and quintessential Central Otago rocky outcrops, to rural town of Tarras. After exploring the eclectic range of shops in Tarras take the leisurely drive back to Wanaka and the mountains of the Mt Aspiring National Park.

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Wanaka to Cardrona

19 minutes, 25 km

  • Grab a coffee at one of the many cafes in Wanaka before setting off for the day
  • Look back to see glimpse of Mt Aspiring just after leaving the outskirts of Wanaka

Cardrona to Arrowtown

25 minutes, 30 km

  • The gold mining history and heritage at Cardrona
  • The Cardrona Hotel is a must stop on this trip and one of the oldest hotels in New Zealand.
  • Cardrona was centre of the butchery trade in Central Otago the 1870’s. Population at the time was over 3000.
  • Cardrona was the only town in New Zealand to have a legally appointed Sheriff.
  • Count the number of bridges and their original names as you follow the Cardrona River to its source. Be sure to take in the views of the Wakatipu Basin from the Crown Range Saddle and also from the Crown Terrace Lookup closer to Arrowtown.
  • The road between Cardrona and Queenstown is New Zealand’s highest highway – rising to 1076m above sea level

Arrowtown to Bannockburn

39 minutes, 46 km

  • Try panning for gold in the Arrow River, near Arrowtown, or visit some Lord of The Rings filming locations.
  • In Arrowtown there is a great selection of cafes but two not to miss are the Arrowtown Bakery for their gourmet pies and Provisions of Arrowtown for the sticky buns!
  • Watch someone else bungy jumping at the Kawarau Bungy Centre.
  • Stop at Gibbston and check out the Gibbston Valley Winery and Cheese are delightful and well worth a stop
  • Visit the Roaring Meg power station in the Kawarau Gorge

Bannockburn to Tarras

31 minutes, 37 km

  • Try fresh local produce - freshly picked fruit and berries in Cromwell
  • Bannockburn – choice of boutique wineries and a great picnic spot down by the river just turn left at bridge
  • Old Cromwell town – last remaining evidence of original town after the valley flooded to create Lake Dunstan.
  • Freeway Orchard is the home of real fruit ice creams another chance to buy sticky buns from Provisions
  • Nice rest and picnic spots along the lakeside
  • Northburn Station is famous for their lunchtime winery platters
  • Take a deviation to the Bendigo gold workings

Tarras to Wanaka

29 minutes, 34 km

  • In Tarras relax with a refreshing cup of tea in the local tearooms or visit the Tarras store, Mrs Robinsons, (a quirky gift shop) or Christina Perriam’s designer store, and the Shrek house, (Shrek the hermit sheep found in 2004 after eluding musters’ for 6 years)