Continuing our New Zealand travels we returned to Queenstown and collected the cars, plus visited our friends and enjoyed some glasses of NZ wine. How delightful.
After picking up Goldie we headed off to Cromwell, an old gold mining town but now the centre of the fruit growing industry in Central Otago. And, of course, the vineyards and wineries now abound in this area and have gained an enviable international reputation in a very short space of time. The vineyards in this area were only planted in the 1980s, so we are looking at an industry only forty years old.
We drove the short route of about an hour to Cromwell and went looking for our BnB in daylight – we certainly would not have found it at night as it was on the main road with no street number sight at all. A quick call when near-by helped us secure two great rooms over looking over Lake Dunstan.
Back into town for dinner at the Stoaker restaurant, part of Wild Earth Winery, where we all selected the 5 courses with 5 matching wines. First up lamb with a young pinot noir, then duck with an old pinot, pork with a pinot gris, hare with an old Riesling and finishing with salmon with a rose´. Yummy and filling!!
Cromwell is an interesting town as much of the old section of the town has been moved when the river was dammed, creating Lake Dunstan (in the 1990s), for the production of hydroelectricity. Some parts of the town were flooded and many of the old buildings were raised, moved to higher ground and restored. This section of the town is now an Historic precinct reflecting life as it was during the gold rush era. This area has also become home to artisans, galleries and, of course, cafes and restaurants catering to the tourists. The town does not attract bus loads of tourists, however, much to the delight of one local gallery owner who lives here for the ‘peace and tranquillity’.
We spent some time wandering the old section and it was very difficult not to indulge in buying some interesting artworks. I found these sea urchin sculptures particularly fascinating. They are made completely from painted and dyed cable ties!
A visit then to Highlands Motorsport Park where you can be driven in a Porsche around the track, drive a mustang or even drive your own car. Our only activity was John going around the go-cart track egged on by one of the young employees so that he was not just racing against himself.
We visited a couple of wineries in the area, including Black Ridge. We had ordered and gladly drunk one of their old Pinot Noirs in a restaurant in Queenstown and were eager to buy some more. Unfortunately, having found the winery and spent an enjoyable half hour here chatting, tasting and learning about the winery and wine growing in the area we had to forgo buying any Pinot. No old ones to buy and the latest release demanded cellaring. We did buy a couple of bottles of a very enjoyable Riesling to ‘drink now’!
Then it was off to Clyde, an old gold mining town and then to Dunedin where we will spend three days.