Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ranfurly to Cromwell And A 10-Mile Walk Near Miss

We drove the Rover from Ranfurly to Cromwell Wednesday, through the heart of Otago. NZ has so many Money Shots (glaciers, rainforest, oceans/rivers/lakes, penguins), and yet the landscape of lesser-known regions has an enchantment all its own. That's why I make a lot of pictures on the roll. Take the drive with us today.

Here's the route (problem viewing click here). If you pull out on that map once or twice you'll see Cromwell is in near proximity to Queenstown, where we'll head Thursday so Art can renew the registration on the Rover (this is done at the post office) and from where we'll fly Friday to Auckland.

Approaching Cromwell, our road hugs the mighty Clutha River, a recurring beauty for us, and always a welcome one.
Cromwell had its beginnings in 1862 when two miners, Hartley and Reilly, discovered gold just below the junction of the Clutha and Kawarau Rivers. The rush that followed brought miners in their thousands to Central Otago.

Two factors affect the Central Otago climate – the proximity of the Southern Alps, and its geographical position as the most inland part of New Zealand. This results in a dry climate (being sheltered from rain bearing winds) and its temperature extremes – high in summer, very cold in winter, with relatively large diurnal ranges at all seasons.

The Big Fruit of Cromwell NZ welcomes you. A woman where we're staying actually said "the walking path goes right past the Big Fruit." Cromwell is known for stone fruit including cherries, peaches, apricots, nectarines, and plums. Also grapes. And it's a glorious 56 F here today, the town recovering from a deep cold snap.

We're all checked in and now we're walking. The air holds a lot of moisture, making it feel even warmer.

Balanced halfway between the equator and South Pole. 

This is a l-o-n-g lake. Did we ask how far it was to Cromwell? No. But I've already decided (after about 6 miles, it turns out, thanks to fitbit) that we're not walking back. When we finally make it to town, we agree, we'll be on the lookout for a taxi.

There are no taxis in Cromwell, this friendly woman at the iSITE told us. Have we mentioned the remarkable iSITE visitor network in NZ? More than 80 locations open every day to help with any and all travel questions--what to do and how to do it, maps/they have tons of maps, and how to find what you're looking for. As you'll soon see, not every request has to do with boosting tourism (though we love them all the more for it), as their descriptive website suggests. Why don't you have iSITES in the US, this woman, who looks a little like our beloved Gilda Radner, asked.

No taxis? Well you learn something new each day, and in Cromwell, population 4000, apparently they're not needed. But this capable woman and her colleague swiftly called the place where we're staying and talked them into sending someone down the lake to town to retrieve us. "You'll stop in the restaurant and have a bite to eat when they get you back, won't you," this women suggested firmly. (While we were waiting, she gave me a big tip on a bach to stay in on the North Island, via

Absolutely, we assured her. And soon the actual builder of the small resort we're lodging in appeared in front of the iSITE door, truck idling, ready to ferry two weary walkers miles back up the lake...for some nice chicken liver pate and a couple of cocktails.

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