An Insider’s Guide to the Central Otago Region


An Insider’s Guide to the Central Otago Region
Where else can you visit a real castle, walk among wild seals, kayak through caves or jet-boat down rocky rivers? From historic Dunedin and Oamaru to the tourist buzz of Queenstown, from the
 Catlins’ rugged, unspoilt beauty and wildlife to central’s world-famous vineyards, Otago has it all.


Homeschooled, Sam Fleury learned how to collaborate with his mum, Linda Huggins, a long time ago. “I’ve never worked for anyone else,” he says. These days, mother and son have teamed up at Oaken, a former carpark that’s become the café to park yourself at in Dunedin.


Pequeno is one of those bars that every city needs: a warm and comfortable lounge with leather chairs and couches, with staff who know their way around local and international wines, spirits, cocktails, single-malt whiskeys and even Cuban cigars. You’ll find such places in London, Madrid and Melbourne, and in 
the basement of Dunedin’s historic Savoy building.


Central Otago, the world’s most southerly and spectacular wine region, is the viticultural hero around here. But there’s a new kid on the block: the Waitaki Valley, straddling the boundary between North Otago and Canterbury. First planted in 2001, the small vineyards produce cool-climate wines that are distinctly different from neighbouring regions. The main varieties are aromatics, pinot gris, pinot noir, gewürztraminer 
and riesling.


Steampunk is a quirky genre of science fiction, featuring eccentric imaginings of steam-powered technology, 
set in a futuristic version of the British Victorian
era. Think H.G. Wells or Jules Verne. Or see it for yourself among the wonderfully preserved Victorian stone buildings of Oamaru. Year-round, there’s the Steampunk HQ museum with art, movies and more; in June each year, the Steampunk NZ Festival is a four-day event with feasting, racing teapots, airships and duelling teacups, literary readings, workshops, dancing. Total madness, really.


Fleur’s Place in North Otago has earned iconic status in New Zealand cuisine. Fleur Sullivan’s menu is simple and based on whatever comes ashore when the Moeraki Bay fishing boats unload their daily catch on the wharf beside her restaurant. Regional organic growers supply most of the other ingredients, including heritage and unique vegetables. Naturally, the wine list includes a good selection from Central Otago and the Waitaki Valley. Rick Stein knows 
a thing or two about seafood: he flew from Cornwall to eat at Fleur’s Place because it is “one 
of those places that 
keeps cropping up in conversations whenever there was a gathering 
of foodies.”


Hidden in the small, historic town
 of Ophir, Pitches Store combines contemporary luxury with hints of its unique 130-year history. With six rooms and an award-winning restaurant, it’s easy to pass the time with great food, wine and good company. Set among rolling hills, it’s the perfect accommodation for those biking the Otago Central Rail Trail, for corporate travellers or romantic getaways. Local attractions include fishing, walks, golf 
and more.


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