From the Wānaka township, take the turn-off to head up the Cardrona Valley through gorgeous mountain landscapes. You’ll soon arrive in the Cardrona Valley, an old gold mining location. Be sure to stop in to the historic Cardrona Hotel, arguably the most photographed building in New Zealand.
Continuing on, the top of the Crown Range is a good spot to stop for photos of the view over the Whakatipu Basin. Descend the Crown Range 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 mines 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.
The historic Cardrona Valley has a rich gold mining history, maintaining a population of 3,000 in the 1870s.
The Cardrona Hotel is a must stop on this trip, arguably the most photographed building in New Zealand.
You should also stop in to the Cardrona Distillery & Museum to taste their famous gin “The Source”, made with pure alpine water.
If you’re up for an adventure, check out horse trekking and quad biking, or mountain biking or skiing (seasonally-dependent, of course) at Cardrona Resort.
When you get to Cromwell, stop at a farm stall to try fresh local produce, including freshly picked fruit and berries.
Also, check out Old Cromwell town, the last remaining evidence of the original town after the valley flooded and created Lake Dunstan.
From here, head back to your stay in Wānaka.