Our favorite things to do in the Otago region
Otago is a diverse landscape situated on the southern portion of New Zealand’s South Island. Whether you’re into scaling mountains or sinking your toes into a quiet beach’s sand, Otago is the ideal holiday destination.
Recharge with a hike alongside crystalline waters and an evergreen forest. As a part of New Zealand’s beloved Makarora River, the Blue Pools are composed of glacier water that flows from nearby mountains.
During the trek, you’ll cross a swing bridge and receive an unmatched view of the clear water and surrounding landscape. You may even see massive trout and hear yellow-eyed birds singing. The flat terrain and short distance are ideal for all fitness levels.
The new owners, Margaret and Barry Barker, refined the surrounding area into an internationally acclaimed garden. Bright greenery now frames the Victorian architecture, granting the castle an unmatched charm. Visitors can explore the castle and grounds at their own leisure. Options include a self-guided tour or an informational tour by Margaret Barker herself.
Roys Peak Track is a must-do for adventurous holidayers. The trail starts alongside Lake Wanaka but eventually ascends into Mount Aspiring/Tititea’s snow-covered Alps. Many locals consider Roys Peak the best way to view Wanaka’s sparkling waters and momentous mountains.
Because hikers gain over 1500 meters in elevation, the weather varies throughout the trek. Packing warm clothing, alpine equipment, as well as an abundance of food and water is highly recommended. Although Roys Peak is an excellent way to experience Otago’s diverse landscape, it is also steep, challenging, and a 16km return trip. Therefore, it is best to leave the track to experienced hikers.
Bike or walk through Central Otago’s original railway once considered “One of the Great Train Trips in the World.” The Department of Conservation officially transformed the railway into a trail in 2000. The path is the perfect way for visitors to immerse themselves in Otago’s rich history and culture as it weaves through multiple of its unique communities.
The 152 km trail is typically cycled but is also walkable. If you plan on completing the entire path, it will likely take 3 to 6 days. Luckily, there are multiple campgrounds and cabins along the way. Trail access is free, but plan on packing some extra cash to experience Otago’s food and wine collection!
Central Otago’s diverse landscape makes for delicious wine varietals, and an Appellation Wine Tour is the best way to sample them! The service has multiple accolades for being one of the best national and international wine tourism services. So, what makes them unique?
Their tasting tours! Guests can choose from a jet boat tour, helicopter tour, zip-lining tour, golfing tour, classic tour, and much more. Regardless of the tour you choose, a knowledgeable guide will educate you on Otago’s wine, history, and culture. Because they are a highly sought-after service, consider booking your tour in advance.
Nugget Point is a headland walking path, complete with breathtaking views of the Caitlin Coast and an endpoint at the notorious Tokota Lighthouse. Once you reach the lighthouse, you’ll figure out why the trail is named Nugget Point–large nugget-like boulders protrude from the deep blue water.
But there’s much more to see than monumental rocks. Pack some binoculars, and you’ll likely detect seals, dolphins, yellow-eyed penguins, and other native species!
Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopter Tours provide holidayers with a scenic tour of Otago’s landscape. Guests can choose from souring over The Remarkables, Wakatipu Basin, Skippers Canyon, Mt Aspiring National Park, or the unique Alpine landscape in its entirety.
The service provider also offers combined experiences. Guests can fly into one of the region’s best wineries or ride snowmobile trails only accessible by helicopter. If you’re planning a trip to Otago, be sure to book this in advance. The service provider also recommends placing it at the beginning of your itinerary as bad weather sometimes calls for a reschedule.
The Toitu Otago Settlers Museum is in Dunedin’s Heritage District and is the best way to delve into Otago’s culture. The innovative exhibits celebrate the first and current residents of Otago. Expect to learn just how far the region has come since its earliest settlers arrived in 1848.
With over 100,000 items in the museum, you may have difficulty exploring everything. That’s why the museum offers self-guided and guided tours. Regardless of how you explore the museum, you can’t miss it! Plus, admission is free.
Penguin place is a conservation program and rehabilitation center that helps endangered yellow-eyed penguins. The conservation reserve is an international attraction as it is the first fully funded admission from guided tours. Tourist dollars have funded habitat restoration, research, rehabilitation efforts, and predator control.
When you visit, you’ll embark on a 2km walk through the conservation reserve and rehabilitation center. Not only will you learn more about the adored species, but your contributions will help save endangered birds.
Steampunk HQ is a sci-fi museum situated at the start of Oamaru’s Victorian Precinct. This methodical location brings the museum’s purpose to life. Interactive art, movies, sculptures, and sounds present a unique take on the Victorian Era’s Industrial Revolution.
Guests have an abundance of futuristic yet all-too-familiar displays to choose from. Steampunk’s workshop, portal, Chris Meder Exhibit, dress-up booth, gadgetorium, and pedal punk bikes utilize today’s technology and tools to capture the essence of 19th Century England. The exploratory museum is perfect for families with children, couples, and friend groups, alike!
Rest in Otago
After a long day of exploring the region, return to a Bachchare Otago holiday home to unwind. You’ll need it after the fun-filled day you’ll have had!