Favourite places: Otago

State Highway 85, the  Pigroot, winds through tussock-covered hills between Kyeburn and...
State Highway 85, the Pigroot, winds through tussock-covered hills between Kyeburn and Palmerston. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
As we are making great strides to see more of our own backyards, we asked people 
to tell us about their favourite places. Former Christchurch mayor Bob Parker answers questions about his favourite New Zealand travel destination, Otago. While Otago is at the top of the list at the moment, he says it could as easily be Takaka, Nelson, Banks Peninsula or Marlborough. He loves them all.

 

What I love most about the destination I’ve chosen is the road trip. To get to Central Otago you have a choice of at least six different routes. Go through the Mackenzie Country, or down State Highway 1 and up the Waitaki Valley south bank. You can also go via the Pigroot through the Maniototo, or via Dunedin through Roxburgh in the gorgeous Teviot Valley through to Alexandra. There’s also the deep south route via the Catlins and Invercargill, or finally through the West Coast via the Haast Pass to Wanaka.

What people don't know about Central Otago ...

Without large numbers of overseas visitors, it is like the Otago of your youth. Just perfect. Not to be missed.

A great area to stay ...

For more of an adventure, drive to Central Otago up the Waitaki then via Dansey's Pass in the Kakanui Range and stay overnight at the historic Danseys Pass Coach Inn. Next day head into the Maniototo, visit Naseby and on to Central Otago. Treat yourself to a couple of nights in Queenstown. Visit Arrowtown for a coffee at Provisions.

Bob Parker. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Bob Parker. PHOTO: ODT FILES

The best way to start the day ...

Normally head into Queenstown for a start at Joe’s Garage. Equally Chop Shop in Arrowtown is a buzzy, happy breakfast venue. An early morning walk on the waterfront at Queenstown is compulsory but wrap up warmly in the cooler months.

For a great night out (or in) in ...

In Queenstown it has to include the world-class restaurants. Botswana Butchery is expensive but never disappoints. Of course, there is always the world-famous Ferg Burger as an alternative.

Favourite places to eat and what I always order ...

Day-time opportunities for eating and enjoying a glass of wine I’d recommend are Akarua Wines and Kitchen, or Amisfield, both near Lake Hayes and both excellent. At Amisfield I’d go for the fresh Bluff oysters and a glass of their own Method Traditional Brut. The fresh fruit stands near Cromwell pack a great variety of local produce.

Top place to walk, run, cycle, tramp is ...

Great walks abound, especially around Arrowtown. There are hikes for all levels of fitness. For a real workout, you may like the Coal Pit Rd walk in Gibbston or relax on the track above the Kawarau River along the Gibbston floor.

Top experience not to miss ...

Any of the river journeys. I’d suggest driving up to Glenorchy and getting on the Dart River wilderness jet boat up into the unequalled beauty of the Mt Aspiring National Park. And you can get a feed at the top of the lake at Glenorchy.

A McCormick-Deering tractor sits at the front gate of Lauderdale on the Becks-
...
A McCormick-Deering tractor sits at the front gate of Lauderdale on the Becks- Lauder Rd, near Omakau.PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Experience I’d always wanted to give a go but never got around to it ...

Flight from Queenstown across to Milford Sound. The scenery is legendary, and to get a bird’s-eye view of the region would be stunning. One day we’ll do it.

Best-kept secret in Central Otago ...

Take the Old Dunstan Rd from the lower Ida Valley at Poolburn and up to the Poolburn Reservoir, then across and down to the Maniototo and Ranfurly. You’ll need a four-wheel-drive but you will never forget the views.

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