Walks in Cromwell, Bonnockburn Slucings

The Best Walks in Cromwell, New Zealand

Last Updated: 12th November, 2023

Located in the heart of Central Otago, Cromwell is a charming town that offers a range of attractions. One of the best ways to explore Cromwell and its surroundings is by foot! Whether you want a leisurely stroll along the lake, a challenging hike up the mountains, or a fascinating walk through the gold mining past, you will find something to suit your taste and fitness level. In this blog post, we will share with you the 10 best walks in Cromwell that will make you fall in love with this amazing region!

Lake Dunstan Trail, walks in Cromwell

If you enjoyed this guide to the 10 Best Walks in Cromwell, you might also like our other post on the Coolest Things to Do in Cromwell, where we share more tips and ideas for your trip!

The 10 Best Walks and Hikes in Cromwell, New Zealand

1. Bruce Jackson Lookout Loop

  • Trail Length: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
  • Walking Time: 1 hour
  • Trail Difficulty: A moderately challenging walk with some steep sections up the hill!
  • Elevation: 142 meters

The Bruce Jackson Lookout Loop is a circular walk that offers some of the most incredible panoramic views of Cromwell, Lake Dunstan and the surrounding vineyards. It is one of the best short walks in Cromwell!

The trail begins starts from the Car Park near the intersection of State Highway 6 and State Highway 8B, on the far side of the Clyde River from Cromwell! From here, the walk follows a well-formed track that climbs up to the Bruce Jackson Lookout point, where you are treated to incredible views over the Cromwell and the stunning Lake Dunstan.

View over Cromwell, New Zealand
View over Cromwell!

The walk then descends back to the car park, passing by an old mine shaft and a sink hole along the way. The walk is moderately challenging, with some steep and exposed sections as your climb up to the lookout, however the stunning views are worth it!

2. 45 Parallel Track

  • Trail Length: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
  • Walking Time: 50 minutes
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate difficulty, with a steep climb
  • Elevation:

The 45 Parallel Track is a steep loop walk that climbs to the top of a hill where the 45th parallel of latitude crosses the land. This walk offers incredible views over Cromwell, the brilliant blue Lake Dunstan, and the surrounding vineyards and mountains.

The walk starts with a series of stairs that ascend to the ridge – a challenging climb, with a bench halfway so you can rest your legs (and have a moment to take in the view!), as well as a second bench at the top! The trail then descends to a down to the lake, and follows the foreshore back to the starting point. Along the way, the trail passes by an old mine shaft and a sinkhole – reminders of the gold mining history of the area!

3. Bannockburn Sluicings Loop

  • Trail Length: 3.5 km (2.2 miles)
  • Walking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Trail Difficulty: An easy walk through a former gold mining area!
  • Elevation:

The Bannockburn Sluicings Loop is a fantastic short walk in Cromwell, that takes you through the scarred landscapes of a former gold mining area!

The Bannockburn Sluicings are the result of large-scale water blasting that left behind a desert-like terrain of schist boulders, vertical bluffs and ruins – making for an interesting landscape! As you follow the trail, you can see the remains of the dams, water races, rock tails and caves that were used by the miners in the 1860’s and 1870’s. There are informative signs along the way that explain the history and geology of the area.

walks in Cromwell, New Zealand
Bannockburn Slucings Walk

This walk is popular with locals and visitors, as it offers panoramic views of the Kawarau Gorge, the Cromwell Basin, and the Pisa Range!

4. Long Gully Loop Track

  • Trail Length: 11 k (6.8 miles)
  • Walking Time: 3-4 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Challenging hiking trail

The Long Gully Loop Track is a challenging walk in Cromwell that weaves through dramatic rock bluffs to the Long Gully Bluffs Conservation Area, where you can get fantastic views of Lake Dunstan and the St Bathans Range.

The walk begins from the Bannockburn Sluicings Track at Stewart Town (an old mining village) and travels through farmland up to the dramatic rock bluffs. The track is steep and rocky in places, and requires a good level of fitness!

The eastern part of the loop is easier, and follows a formed 4WD Track. The track cuts through the northern corner of the conservation area, where you can see the grey shrubland and kowhai among the rocky bluffs.

5. Quartz Reef Point Track

  • Trail Length: 1.4 km (0.9 miles)
  • Walking Time: 30 minutes
  • Trail Difficulty: A an easy short walk along a well maintained path

The Quartz Reef Point Track is a beautiful short walk in Cromwell that takes you to the best preserved example of herring bone tailings in the country! These are the remains of the gold mining activities that used water blasting to expose the quartz reef in the 1860’s.

The walk begins at the car park at John Bull Creek, around 8km from Cromwell town center, and follows the orange markers to the historic reserve and viewing platform. Along the way, you can see the rock formations, caves, dams, and water races that were created by the miners! This walk also offers incredible views over Lake Dunstan and the Pisa Range.

Quartz Reef Point Track, Walks in Cromwell, New Zealand

6. Aurora Trail

  • Trail Length: 4.5 km loop (2.7 miles)
  • Walking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderately challenging loop trail
  • Elevation: 170 meters

The Aurora Trail is a loop walk that takes you back in time to the gold mining era of Central Otago. It begins by taking you through the beautiful kanuka forest, where you can spot native birds and plants, and discover the historic remnants of the old Logantown and Welshtown settlements! Here, you can see the stone cottages that the miners lived in, and the shafts that they dug in search of gold.

This fantastic walk in Cromwell also offers spectacular views of the Cromwell Basin and surrounding mountains from the trail, which is marked with orange poles and signs. The Aurora Trail is a great way to experience the history and nature of this region!

7. Kawarau River Track

  • Trail Length: 18.7 km (11.6 miles)
  • Walking Time: 3-4 hours
  • Trail Difficulty:

The Kawarau River Track is a lovely walk that follows the shores of Lake Dunstan and the Kawarau River, passing through vineyards, orchards and historical sites and offering some incredible views! The walk is suitable for both hiking and cycling, and has some remote and rugged sections that require confidence and experience.

The walk travels from Cromwell and travels to the Kawarau Gorge Mining Center, and can be done in either direction. It offers a glimpse into the fascinating gold mining history of the area, and you can see the remains of the caves and rock tails that were used by the miners.

The Kawarau River Track offers stunning views over the lake and surrounding mountains, as well as a chance to visit the historic precinct of Cromwell, where you can find a nice cafe to relax in after your walk!

Kawarau Gorge, Walks in Cromwell, New Zealand

8. Mount Rosa Track

  • Trail Length: 18.2 km (11.3 miles) return
  • Walking Time: 7-8 hours
  • Trail Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation:

Mount Rosa Track is a challenging walk in Cromwell that rewards you with stunning views of the Gibbston Valley, the Nevis Bluff, the Kawarau Gorge, and the lower Wakatipu basin.

The track begins at the car park off SH1, and starts with a steady climb up to the summit of Mount Rosa, which is 1,764 m high! The views are just magnificent, and worth the hard climb! From here, the trail will then continue along the ridge line to another peak, before descending back down to the flats and to the car park.

walks in Cromwell, Central Otago

9. Kanuka Track

  • Trail Length: 10.6 km (6.6 miles)
  • Walking Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderately challenging, with some muddy and rocky sections
  • Elevation: 480 meters!

Kanuka Track is a 10 km loop walk that explores the Bendigo area, a historic mining district near Cromwell. The track starts near the historic Logantown, and traverses some open country before winding through the stunning Kānuka Scenic Reserve.

It then climbs into a rugged mountainous landscape, passing through re-generated kānuka forest and impressive rocky crags with magnificent views over Lake Dunstan and the Upper Clutha Valley. From here, the path climbs up to a skyline ridge, where you can see the whole landscape from a different perspective. The track is rugged and steep in some parts, but the elevation gain is worth it for the views!

10. Lake Dunstan Trail

  • Trail Length: 55 km (34 miles)
  • Walking Time: 1-2 days
  • Trail Difficulty:

The Lake Dunstan Trail is a scenic and challenging 55 km trail that connects the townships of Clyde and Cromwell in Central Otago, New Zealand. This is one of the most popular trails in Cromwell, especially for cyclists!

The trail begins at the Cromwell Heritage Pricinct, where you can explore the beautiful restored buildings and grab a coffee before you start! From Cromwell, the path follows the banks of the Kawarau River, before crossing a spectacular bridge over the Bannockburn Inlet and winding its way down the stunning Clutha River towards Clyde.

Lake Dunstan Trail, Walks in Cromwell, New Zealand

Along the way, you can enjoy the views of the man-made lake, the rugged hills, the vineyards of Bannockburn, and the historic sites of the gold mining era! The trail is beautiful and well-maintained, and is popular with both cyclists and hikers.

If you want to discover more amazing walking trails in the Central Otago region, don’t miss our other post on the best walks in Arrowtown, where we reveal some hidden gems and stunning views!

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