Things to do in
Central Otago

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Our most recommended things to do in Central Otago

Otago Winery Tour with Gourmet Wine & Food-Paired Lunch

1. Otago Winery Tour with Gourmet Wine & Food-Paired Lunch

Make the most of your stay in Queenstown with this half-day wine and food experience for an unforgettable taste of Central Otago’s wine region. Enjoy a winery lunch consisting of several tasting dishes each perfectly matched by the Chief Winemaker and Head Chef, using estate wines and fresh local produce. Indulge in wine tasting and presentations at 3 wineries, visiting one larger well-known winery and two boutique style wineries. The tour also includes a wine cave tour and tasting, providing you with an insight into the local great wines and the Central Otago wine industry.

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Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Lunch and Wine Tastings

2. Gourmet Food and Wine Tour with Lunch and Wine Tastings

Visit 4 premium vineyards over 2 wine subregions (Gibbston and the Cromwell/Bannockburn basin). Have a wine barrel cooked lunch consisting of 5 tasting dishes matched with wines for a unique tasting in Australasia's largest underground wine cave. Taste local cheeses at a local vineyard. Visit Old Cromwell town and the must-see Arrowtown. Have a taste of locally handcrafted chocolates at your leisure. Then, go on a stunning drive through the Kawarau Gorge whilst learning about the early pioneering history of this rugged region. View the historic Kawarau Bridge and original AJ Hackett Bungy.

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Shotover River: Extreme Jet Boat Experience

3. Shotover River: Extreme Jet Boat Experience

Take on the ultimate jet boat experience on the Shotover River for breathtaking ride through dramatic and narrow canyons. Located less than 10-minutes drive from Queenstown. Self-drive or climb aboard the courtesy shuttle bus in downtown Queenstown. A short ride will have you at the shores of the Shotover River. Meet your experienced guide and gear up for your high-speed jet boat ride. Hold on tight as the driver expertly navigates the jet boat over white-water rapids and squeezes through the narrow walls of the Shotover Canyon. Speed past rocky outcrops, skim around boulders, and zip through the dramatic and narrow canyons as its walls tower above you. After 25 thrilling minutes, return to the jet base and relax on the shuttle transfer back to Queenstown.

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Glenorchy & Paradise Scenic Half-Day Tour from Queenstown

4. Glenorchy & Paradise Scenic Half-Day Tour from Queenstown

Just 45 minutes from Queenstown, Glenorchy is nestled on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu and is home to what many say is New Zealand's best scenery and a slice of Middle-Earth magic. View stunning scenery and alpine vistas as you are guided in style aboard a luxury Mercedes van. Enjoy an overload of sightseeing and views packed into a fun half-day adventure to Glenorchy and beyond. Upon arrival in Glenorchy, you will be awe struck as you gaze at the mountain ranges and native beech forest which set the backdrop for this rustic town. You will have some time to check out the town's local sites and hidden gems, while also learning about Glenorchy and its fascinating Maori history. After Glenorchy, visit Paradise, view Diamond Lake, and explore the surrounding areas. There’s endless natural beauty and scenic stops along the way, ensuring you’ll go home with some postcard-worthy photos. View multiple Lord of the Rings movie locations, such as Twelve Mile Delta, where the first fight between Faramir's Rangers and the Giant Oliphaunts took place. In a location called "Paradise," you will also get to see the famous locations of Isengard and Saruman's Tower. Costumes are available, so you can re-create scenes and dress as a character from the movie. Whether you are a Lord of the Ring’s fan or not, you will be impressed with the stunning scenery surrounding these locations. Taste a kiwi-style morning and afternoon tea with a spectacular back drop. Your guide will set up the ultimate picnic in one of a number of picturesque locations, consisting of classic, kiwi delights. With a stunning natural backdrop comprised of majestic mountain ranges and native beech forest, Glenorchy is sure to leave you speechless.

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From Queenstown: Mount Cook Skydive & Tour

5. From Queenstown: Mount Cook Skydive & Tour

Meet your guide in Queenstown before setting off for a day of thrills and adventure. Your guide will set the scene and prepare you for your skydive as you head out of the city and towards Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Admire the views as you pass through Kawarau Gorge, Lindis Pass and the Southern Alps. There will be a few short stops along the way to take in the scenery, and a longer stop in the quaint town of Omarama to get some lunch. After lunch, you will head to your skydive in Pukaki. Boasting some of the country’s most epic scenery and views of the snow-capped mountains, glaciers, lakes of Mount Cook National Park, this is one of the best bits of sky in the country. You will take a 10-minute scenic flight up to 9,000, 13,000, or 15,000 feet where you will get ready to dive. Enjoy a thrilling 30-second freefall before your professional instructor pulls the parachute for 3-5 minutes of incredible views across the South Island and Aoraki National Park. Back on solid ground, you will take a short drive past Lake Pukaki to arrive at Mount Cook village. You will have 2.5 hours to explore the National Park on foot, an ideal amount of time to take the easy hike along the Kea Point track. After a packed day of adventure, you will visit High Country Salmon to taste some of the freshest salmon in New Zealand. During the summer months, you will also stop at Mrs Jones Fruit Stall to try some fresh local fruit before heading back to Queenstown. Alternatively, you can choose to continue heading North from Mount Cook National park and end your day trip in Christchurch. If you would like to choose this, please select the ‘Drop-off in Christchurch’ option.

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From Queenstown: Mount Cook and Hooker Valley Day Trip

6. From Queenstown: Mount Cook and Hooker Valley Day Trip

Visit breathtaking locations in Queenstown as you make your way to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Travel with a reliable tour guide who will share stories and rich background knowledge on Queenstown and the Mount Cook area. Start your tour in the stunning city of Queenstown. Drive through the Kawarau Suspension Bridge and marvel at the scenery the Kawarau Gorge has to offer. Stop at the Roaring Meg Lookout to take photos of your stunning view. Then, enter the region of Cromwell, famous for fruits and wine and where you can see huge fields of vines. Next, traverse the majestic Lindis Pass which lies between two valleys against a backdrop of a bright blue sky. This stretch of highway is one of the only three Alpine roads through the otherwise impassable Southern Alps. After taking photos at the top of the pass, drive through the Mackenzie District and visit the township of Omarama. Turning west, you'll enter Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, and Lake Pukaki will emerge in front of you. Proceed to the start of the Hooker Valley Track and depart on a 3-hour self-guided hike with amazing views of Hooker Lake, Hooker Glacier, and Mount Cook. Finish your tour by visiting High Country Salmon as you make your way back to Queenstown.

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Queenstown: Mount Cook Premium Guided Day Tour

7. Queenstown: Mount Cook Premium Guided Day Tour

The day begins with early morning pickup from your accommodation in Queenstown and heads through the heart of the South Island towards New Zealand’s tallest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Along the way, soak up unforgettable scenic views and stop at the Cromwell Fruit Bowl, Lindis Pass, Omarama, and Lake Pukaki. As you travel, listen to your guide’s fascinating commentary about the local scenery, history, and culture. Arrive at Mount Cook Village and spend 3.5 hours exploring. Choose to take a walk to the impressive Lake Mueller for a close-up look at Mount Sefton’s glaciers, or experience the incredible activities on offer at Mount Cook. On the return journey to Queenstown, enjoy a stop at the Twizel Salmon Farm, before arriving back to the city in the early evening.

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Boutique Winery Half-Day Tour & Vineyard Platter-Style Lunch

8. Boutique Winery Half-Day Tour & Vineyard Platter-Style Lunch

Discover Central Otago and some of its world-class wines on this small group tour. Accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable wine guide, you will visit a selection of the region’s premium vineyards, taste a range of fine wines, and enjoy a gourmet platter-style lunch. A maximum group size of ten adults ensures the pace of the tour is relaxed and informative with time to learn about the early history, master the art of wine appreciation, and visit the historic Old Cromwell Town. Central Otago is a remarkable region in New Zealand. It is steeped in early pioneering history, has rugged spectacular scenery, produces some of New Zealand’s tastiest stone fruits, and has now become renowned for its outstanding wines. Pinot Noir is the real star of the region but there are many outstanding examples of Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Departing at 11:00, you will venture through the rugged Kawarau Gorge to visit 4 of the region’s finest boutique vineyards in the Bannockburn and the Gibbston Valley sub regions. Lunch is provided in the peaceful setting of Carrick Winery, overlooking the Bannockburn Inlet of Lake Dunstan. This tour is a great introduction to the region’s wine, history, culture, and fine cuisine, and makes a great afternoon out from Queenstown. Upgrade your experience by adding a jet boat ride or 9 holes of golf.

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Queenstown: White Water Surfing Along the Kawarau River

9. Queenstown: White Water Surfing Along the Kawarau River

Bodyboard up to 12km down the iconic Kawarau River. You’ll enjoy riding white water rapids and even get a chance to try surfing on standing waves, riding whirlpools as well as catching some underwater currents if you are brave enough. The fast Kawarau River bursts with energy, and this trip will challenge your nerves from start to finish. About 1-1.5 hours will be spent in the river.  The bodyboards are light and highly maneuverable, allowing you to be more active in the water. It's the perfect choice for someone looking for the ultimate adventure. You can even choose your own board depending on how much adrenaline you can handle. River surfing is best suited for people who want the full white water experience. You'll get the opportunity to also enjoy some of New Zealand's spectacular scenery on the more gentle parts of the river, and you can also stop for a jump from the cliffs along the river.

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Queenstown: Central Otago Wine Tour by Private Helicopter

10. Queenstown: Central Otago Wine Tour by Private Helicopter

Enjoy a day of luxury on this exclusive helicopter winery tour in Central Otago. Start your day with a pickup from your Queenstown accommodation in a private luxury vehicle. Your first stop is the Gibbston Valley Winery for a private wine tasting, wine cave and winery tour, and light nibbles. Then, embark on a scenic helicopter flight over the Cromwell Basin with an Alpine landing. Next, visit the Scott Base Winery to taste a flight of 5 wines from the whiteboard options. You'll be traveling between the vineyards in a chauffeured, open-top Jeep.  Enjoy a 2-course à la carte lunch at Carrick Winery, with a glass of Bannockburn Estate wine. Next stop is Cloudy Bay Winery for a private wine tasting experience with a Cloudy Bay ambassador. Next is Misha's Vineyard and Tasting Room to taste 5 wines from the 12 wines on offer. Then enjoy a second scenic helicopter flight from the Cromwell Basin through the Kawarau Gorge to Gibbston. Final stop is Mt Rosa Wines, where you will take part in one last wine tasting experience. After a good laugh with the owners, you will be driven back to your accommodation in Queenstown.

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Frequently asked questions about Central Otago

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What people are saying about Central Otago

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 132 reviews

It’s well worth the 9 am start to experience the beautiful drive to Glenorchy & Paradise. Andy was a very informative guide and I appreciated his personal knowledge of the area. We enjoyed a simple but tasty morning tea before driving home after plenty of photo opportunities. If you are a LOTR movie buff, you’ll enjoy the experience even more.

It was amazing! Lance was very nice and approachable Trip was amazing! I had enough time to explore the place. Recommendable!

Brilliant driver leader. Arils provided excellent commentary. Great information was very helpful and pleasant

Tour was amazing. The food portion for lunch was a little but the full experience is amazing Recommendable!

Very well organized our guide had excellent knowledge and was engaging throughout exceeded expectations