With a full day up our sleeves and a car to take us where we wanted, Abby and I set off for Cromwell.
Cromwell is a really unique part of the South Island, and is the heart of Central Otago. The landscape dries out and the snow capped mountains disappear into the distance, replaced with bare brown hills, of tussock, briar and purple thyme. Yet despite the apparent barren land, vineyards and orchards flourish here making it the fruit and wine centre of the South. It’s quite a beautiful little community and a place I always love stopping in at when I visit.
After having lunch and sharing a delicious bottle of wine from the region with an old family friend a little further along in Bannockburn, we were back in the car again and on to Old Cromwell Town. Located at the end of Melmore Terrace, this little town is home to local craftspeople and a small cafe, and entry is totally free. The original town centre drowned back in 1990, disappearing under Lake Dunstan, however great efforts were put in place to restore and reconstruct part of what originally stood back in the late 1800’s. The workmanship and attention to detail that went into this restoration is incredible – it really does feel like you’re stepping inside a history book, the surrounding landscape making it utterly picturesque!
Getting there a little later in the day meant that this little town was almost entirely shut down. We wandered into the Cromwell Argus building, where the newspaper of the same name was first printed back in 1869. So many original pieces of machinery and copies of old prints are on display. I was ridiculously excited to be able to walk out into the back room and actually touch some of these historic pieces (I get a real kick out of history and standing in places people once stood many, many years before me. From the Colosseum in Rome to the printing room of a small town NZ newspaper). From here, we walked out onto the jetty that sits out over the bright, turquoise lake, standing in total awe of the beauty around us.
Our last pit stop before heading back to Wanaka was Jacksons Fruit Orchard. We’ve stopped in at this orchard for as long as I can remember, each time my family returns to the beautiful South. In the past we’ve walked out with boxes full of the most incredible stone fruit – more cherries, peaches and apricots than you can imagine – and all fresh off the trees they grown on out the back! I can tell you that nothing beats the stone fruit grown in New Zealand. They also serve up delicious fresh fruit ice cream and smoothies at Jackson’s, so it really does make a great pit stop if you’re passing through after a few hours on the road. The orchard was a little bare while we were there, as the season hadn’t begun just yet. I wandered in among the naked cherry trees, making the most of the fresh clean air and the sun on my skin, imagining what it would be like to come back while everything was green and in full bloom.