Como Villa Estate Vineyard

Como Villa Estate on the outskirts of Alexandra is the most interesting place we’ve ever done a wine tasting. The cellar door and museum are in a stone house that was built in the mid 1860’s by Thomas Oliver.

Thomas was one of the first to plant grape vines in the area, but his primary business was building and operating water races for gold miners, some of the races are still used today for irrigation.

Como Village Estate - cellar door and museum

Como Village Estate – cellar door and museum

Thomas was a successful entrepreneur and he sold Como Villa in 1874 and moved to Dunedin to … Read the rest

Supernatural St Bathans?

Legend has it the Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans is haunted, some say by a ‘lady of the night’. A Paranormal Investigator checked in back in 2011, he checked out with no definitive paranormal proof but was spooked enough to turn on the light to investigate strange happenings before his stay was over.

In 2010 there was a supernatural image in the post office window – or was it a cloud? Who knows, but there may be somethin’ strange in the neighbourhood.

The Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans – raise a glass with the ghosts ….

Vulcan Hotel, St Bathans

Vulcan Hotel, St Bathans

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O-phir Awesome

In Ophir some of the locals wear “O-phir awesome” t-shirts, we like Ophir too. There are a surprising number of buildings that remain from the gold mining days.The smart Pitches Store is a top coffee spot and guests rate the attached accommodation highly.

Pitches Store

Pitches Store

Pitches Store

Pitches Store

Ophir is a short detour from the Otago Rail Trail, other cute cottage accommodation options are Ryan’s Cottage and Cottages on Swindon B&B.

Ryan's Cottage

Ryan’s Cottage

The Ophir Post Office was built in 1886 and still operates from 9am-12 noon Monday – Friday, unfortunately we visited out of hours so couldn’t see inside. … Read the rest

Bannockburn Sluicings

If you like unusual landscapes the Bannockburn Sluicings near Cromwell are a rugged collection of cliffs, pinnacles, caves and gullies created by gold sluicing. At Stewart Town you’ll see the remains of a stone hut, and an old orchard planted in the early 1900’s that still produces fruit.

Take water and wear sturdy shoes, rabbits will keep you company as you walk the tracks through the ‘badlands’. (Allow two hours, walk information is included in the Walk Cromwell brochure along with Bendigo).

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Bannockburn Sluicings

Remains of a cottage and orchard … Read the rest

There are rabbits in them thar hills

I gave up counting rabbits around Bendigo once I hit 50 – they were everywhere. I wasn’t surprised when I read that a pair of rabbits can potentially breed to 12 million in three years!

A trio of rabbits at Bendigo

A trio of rabbits at Bendigo

Rabbits were released in the South Island in the 1850’s, by the late 1800’s they had stripped the land in some parts of Central Otago to such an extent that farms were abandoned. Methods to control the population included harvesting for meat and skins, a rabbit canning factory was opened in Cromwell in 1915, receiving 10,000 carcasses a day … Read the rest

The town that drowned

A town submerged by any means other than natural causes seems a remote possibility to us, but it was a reality in the old gold mining town of Cromwell. Cromwell’s original town centre was established in 1862, it was demolished in the late1980’s, and flooded in the early 1990’s to make way for Clyde Dam  ….

The Clyde Dam will be the best thing since sliced bread

The Clyde Dam will be the best thing since sliced bread

In the mid 1980’s a group of concerned locals foresaw the loss of their town’s heritage and formed “Save Old Cromwell”. It led to historic buildings in the town centre being dismantled and … Read the rest

A vine romance in Cromwell

I fell for ‘Blondie’ at Wooing Tree Vineyard, I liked her “delightful aromas of peaches and cream”. Next I fell for a love story ….. a couple met over a glass of Wooing Tree, a few years later they said their vows at the vineyard. The couple continue a long tradition of Wooing Tree romance.

The Wooing Tree

The Wooing Tree

The vineyard takes its name from a large pine tree, affectionately known by locals as the Wooing Tree. The tree could have succumbed to a chainsaw when the vineyard was being developed – the new owners were unaware it was Cromwell’s lovers … Read the rest