Cromwell is located in the valley of the Upper Clutha, deep in the heart of the dry interior of Central Otago
… in a landscape of bare brown hills, of tussock and briar, of purple thyme and tors of schist, of broad basins and fertile valleys, of Lake Dunstan’s pristine waters and of gorges carved by two great rivers
… a landscape first trodden by the Maori hunter and trader, opened to European settlement by the sheepmen, exploited and transformed by the gold seekers and later by the dam builders
… and now home to the merino and deer farmer, to orchards and vineyards, to artists and artisans and to those, tempted by the landscape and history, climate and location and the myriad of pursuits offered on land and water, to visit this „timeless land.“
History – Glittering Beginnings
Cromwell was originally known as „The Junction,“ being at the confluence of the Clutha and Kawarau Rivers. In 1862, gold was discovered below the Junction by two miners, Hartley and Reilly. Once the word of a gold strike was out, there was an influx of several thousand miners to the area.
As gold ran out, Cromwell became the service centre for an extensive farming and fruit growing area. It has a strategic location between the Lindis and the Haast Pass, and acts as a hub between the towns of Wanaka, Queenstown and Alexandra.
The decision to build Clyde Dam and use Cromwell as the accommodation base brought many changes to the town. These included the doubling of the residential area, relocation of the old town centre (now called „Old Cromwell Town“), upgrading of services, and the provision of modern educational and sports facilities. The relocated town centre, or „The Mall,“ now houses the main retail, service and civic buildings in Cromwell.