1. Bannockburn wineries cycle trail, Bannockburn
The Lake Dunstan Trail from the Cromwell Heritage Precinct to the Bannockburn Bridge has long been a favourite to take in the local scenery by bike, or by foot. And now, a new extension has been added to the trail, taking it up the hill to Felton Rd. There you'll find some of Central Otago's most famous wines, including Mt Difficulty, Terra Sancta, Te Kano, Desert Heart, Gate 22, Domain Road and Felton Road. Make a day of it but do plan ahead – some of the cellar doors are open by appointment only.
2. Backcountry Saddles Expeditions, Earnscleugh Station
For almost 30 years Backcountry Saddles Expeditions has been thrilling domestic and international visitors, showcasing the stunning scenery of Cardrona Valley by horseback. Now, they've opened in a new location on Earnscleugh Station between Alexander and Clyde. It's the same skilled and trusted operator but they now have stunning new scenery that takes you well off the beaten track. Your guide will take you into the hidden valley on appaloosa horses, where you'll feel like you've stepped into your own Western movie set.
3. Cheeki Cherries, Cromwell
There's nothing quite like a ripe, flavourful cherry picked straight from the tree. Now you can experience just that at Cheeki Cherries. Set on the outskirts of Cromwell, this family-owned cherry and stone fruit orchard gives you the chance to pick your own export-grade cherries that are truly some of the best in the world. With 22 varieties of white and dark, ripe for the picking during December and January each year, you're welcome to bring along a picnic blanket and make a day of it.
4. Matangi Station MTB Park, Alexandra
Keen mountain bike riders will find their mecca at New Zealand's newest mountain bike park on the outskirts of Alexandra. With a network of trails developed in partnership with the local mountain bike community, Matangi Station MTB Park opens up some of the best raw, rocky and challenging trails to be found in Aotearoa. Locals have long known that they've had something very special in their back yard and now, finally, the rest of the world will be able to enjoy it too.
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5. River Rock Estate, Cromwell
If you've been making the most of the various cycle trails around central Otago, you'll likely need a bit of R&R to calm those screaming calf muscles. New to Cromwell, River Rock Estate offers the perfect place to unwind with luxury accommodation, a boutique vineyard and winery, plus now, a range of hot pools to soak in. The pools – which are open to the public, but suitable for adults only – include indoor soaking baths, outdoor hot tubs with views of the surrounding mountains, an indoor swim spa and a plunge pool, all ranging from 32 to 40 degrees Celsius.
- Alice Frances
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