We have just returned from a wonderful time in Cromwell. I apparently used to visit all the time when I was a young girl as my family lived nearby, but as an adult I have only ever driven past Cromwell and had no idea of how large it was or what attractions it had for a young family. My husband had never visited Cromwell either an had only driven past, so when an opportunity came up to visit Cromwell with other family members and celebrate my grandparents' birthdays, we decided to make a family holiday out of it.
We stayed at Cromwell Motel, and I cannot express how wonderful this place was! From the recently renovated bathroom, the spacious kitchen bench, the sensible room layout, the pool and the accommodating hosts, this place surpassed my expectations. Even a vomiting child was no problem for the owners, who helped with extra bedding and didn't make a fuss.
On the way there, we had to make a stop at the historic old church at Lake Tekapo. We managed to get this beautiful family shot- we had one take on a camera with a tripod, and the place was milling with tourists but amazingly none got in the shot! This is being turned into a canvas for our wall.
When we got to Cromwell, we had to take another family photo with the giant fruit! Cromwell is known for stone fruits, and this monument is a great photo opportunity.
The boys enjoyed wandering through Cromwell Mall, a great outdoor group of shops with waterways throughout. I recommend getting the icecream from Hansel and Gretel's Sweet Shop- the Belgium Biscuit flavoured one was amazing- and the boys chose mint choc chip and banoffee. I had a cashew and cream cheese mix, which was delicious!
Since Cromwell is the place of stone fruits, it was only right that we go fruit picking. The only fruit available to pick was cherries, and we had a lovely afternoon picking cherries from Glenvale Orchard. We even took some white cherries, which were fantastic for avoiding stains on the kid's clothing!
There is lots of historical information at Old Cromwell Town, where the buildings from the settlement have been recreated in a street setting. Old Cromwell was flooded due to the building of the dam, but the history remains. Grab a bite to eat from the cafe and sit by the lakeside, or explore the buildings and shops.
None of us have been fishing, but we holidays with my sister and brother in law, who is a keen fisherman. We trotted off down to the lakeside to try catch a fish. We were unsuccessful, but discovered how peaceful and fun fishing can be! Lucas in particular was so excited about catching a fish, that we now have a new hobby to look into here in Christchurch.
Our Friday afternoon saw us heading off to Highlands Motorsport Park, where there is a brand new dinosaur park tour! We were loaded into a truck and driven around the park, where dinosaurs were spotted thorughouyt the woods as well as a few other interesting sights!
There is the opportunity to get off the truck and explore the area, with a flying fox, picnic area, obstacle course and photo opportunities with some of the dinosaurs. This is a definite must-do in Cromwell for those of you with children- or even if you are a grown up!
At Highlands there is also plenty for the men to look at, with a vast array of supercars, motorbikes and vehicle memorabilia. You can even get a ride in a Lamborghini or V8 Supercar, or have a race with Go Karts. If you are more like me, you can sneak off and have a wine at The Nose winery and restaurant. Other activities for the kids include mini golf, a sculpture park and a balance bike track.
It is a short drive out to Clyde Dam- the controversial project that flooded areas of Central Otago but has been beneficial in providing a trusted source of power since 1993. From here, you can also visit nearby Alexandra- where I lived as a young girl!
We came prepared with a lot of our own food, but we did dine out at Gentle Annies, based in Golden Gate Lodge, for birthday celebrations. The waiter was amazing- bringing the boys their food as we sat down to eat so that they wouldn't have to wait while 35 adults ordered, and there was also a children's play area. The wine list was extensive, and the food was far beyond what I expected. My kale wrapped salmon with risotto did not disappoint, and my husband thoroughly enjoyed his gourmet sandwich.
I was so impressed with what Cromwell has to offer- I didn't even get to the wineries so we have all agreed as a family that we will be going back! Even my husband was pleasantly surprised at the array of activities to do in Cromwell, and if we ever win Lotto we would be getting a holiday house and a boat for Cromwell. The pace, setting and location was perfect for our family, and the boys are already requesting for Cromwell to be our destination at Christmas.