Cardrona Arrowtown Cromwell Loop

This loop follows the historic gold trail and passes through some of the regions best Pinot Noir vineyards

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 and Lake Wakatipu. 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.

Highlights along the way:

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 and was the only town in New Zealand to have a legally appointed Sheriff.
  • Visit The Cardrona Distillery & Museum to taste their gin "The Source", which took home a gold medal at the New York Wine & Spirits Awards 2016.
  • Try horse trekking, quad biking, mountain biking or skiing.
  • 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 or have a go yourself.
  • Stop at Gibbston. 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
  • 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)

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Flights to Wanaka

Getting to Wanaka is easy. It’s a short, scenic 60-minute drive to Wanaka from the closest international airport, where you will find all major rental car companies and scheduled bus services that provide transport to Wanaka throughout the day.

Queenstown Airport is serviced daily from all major New Zealand airports as well as over 40 flights a week direct from Australia.

How to get to Wanaka

Driving to Wanaka

Driving on the South Island roads of New Zealand is a great way to experience the region, with relatively quiet roads and some of the most amazing scenery right outside the window.

Major car and campervan hire companies are all located at Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown airports. There are also a number of rental car companies based in Wanaka.

How to get to Wanaka

Explore the Region

Wanaka is unique and captivating; it inspires you to discover, and gives you the freedom to explore.

Located in the stunning alps of the South Island, New Zealand, visitors from around the world are drawn to the Wanaka region by its outstanding beauty.

Explore Wanaka

  1. New Zealand
  2. Auckland 1 h 50 min
  3. Wellington 1 h 20 min
  4. Christchurch 55 min
  5. Queenstown Airport 1 h 4 min
  6. Australia
  7. Brisbane 3 h 50 min
  8. Gold Coast 3 h 30 min
  9. Sydney 3 h 15 min
  10. Melbourne 3 h 35 min
  11. Tokyo 10 h 30 min
  12. Los Angeles 12 h 5 min
  13. Beijing 16 h 10 min
  1. Christchurch 5 h 14 min
  2. Ashburton 3 h 56 min
  3. Geraldine 3 h 19 min
  4. Tekapo 2 h 17 min
  5. Mt Cook 2 h 6 min
  6. Twizel 1 h 39 min
  7. Omarama 1 h 21 min
  8. Franz Josef 3 h 32 min
  9. Fox Glacier 3 h 6 min
  10. Haast 1 h 43 min
  11. Cromwell 39 min
  12. Queenstown 1 h 4 min
  13. Milford Sound 4 h 34 min
  14. Te Anau 2 h 52 min
  15. Dunedin 2 h 52 min
  1. Makarora 50 min
  2. Lake Hawea 1 h 7 min
  3. Wanaka Airport 11 min
  4. Luggate 13 min
  5. Tarras 27 min
  6. Cromwell 39 min
  7. Cardrona 18 min
  8. Arrowtown 53 min
  9. Queenstown 1 h 4 min
  10. Matukituki Valley 51 min
  11. Raspberry Creek 1 h 6 min