Alexandra to Twizel (Lake Ruataniwha)


Oliver’s Lodge in Clyde.

It will be a short drive, again through unknown territory, including the Lindis Pass until Omarama.

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Clyde, population 1011, grew up around the former settlement of Dunstan during the Central Otago gold rush of the 1860s. The town could once claim to be the most populous in New Zealand during the height of gold fever. The town’s post office (and thus the town) was officially renamed from Dunstan to Clyde on 22 May 1865, after Lord Clyde.

Clyde looks a pretty wee town.

More recently the town has been known for the Clyde Dam, a giant hydroelectric dam at the north end of the town, behind which lies Lake Dunstan. The Clutha River is the swiftest river (per volume) in the southern hemisphere. The river then runs to the Roxburgh Dam before finally meeting the sea at Balclutha. I have developed an interest for dams, perhaps because there are so many mighty rivers in the South Island, rivers that help produce much of New Zealand’s power.


Clyde Dam

A point near Cromwell lies 119 kilometres from the sea, the farthest from the sea anywhere in New Zealand.

Cromwell (names after Oliver Cromwell) lay at the confluence of the Clutha River and Kawarau River, which was noted for the difference between the colours of the waters of the two rivers and also for the historic bridge at the convergence of the two. In the 1980’s and 90’s Cromwell underwent a major transformation with the construction of the Clyde Dam power station. When the dam was completed in 1992, the valley behind it was flooded to create Lake Dunstan. As a result, the original site of Cromwell’s historic business district at the junction of the Kawarau and Clutha Rivers now lies at the bottom of the lake. I remember this as being very controversial and emotional at the time.


Several of the old buildings of the town which escaped the flooding have been retained as a historic precinct close to the shore of the Kawarau, worthy of a visit.

Tarras Village is less than 30 minutes drive from both Cromwell and Wanaka. To the north lies the Lindis Pass and Omarama, 83 kilometres away.

Located on Bendigo Loop Road is the old Bendigo bakehouse.
From Bendigo Township, the steep road leads to the old gold mines and the historic sites of Logantown and Welshtown. Caution is needed around old mine shafts.The vast open space includes a superb vista which takes in the Dunstan Range to the east and the Pisa Range to the west. To the south is a great view looking down the Cromwell Valley, north-east to the St Bathan’s Range and north-west to the mountains and Matukituki Valley.
Starting from the Welshtown car park you can view the Matilda and Aurora batteries, numerous mining shafts and the remains of several stone dwellings.


The ruins of the Bendigo Bakehouse.


The Lindis Pass

The dramatic Lindis Pass (an alpine area of tall, tussock-covered mountains) links the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. The actual pass crosses a saddle between the valleys of the Lindis and Ahuriri Rivers at an altitude of 971 metres above sea level. For many months of the year, you can expect to see snow in this mountainous area – often down to the roadside.Adjacent to the highway is the Lindis Conservation Area. Here snow tussock grassland dominates the landscape. Longslip Mountain (1494 metres) has one of the most extensive sites of the buttercup ranunculus haastii in the Mackenzie Basin. Native bird species living here include titipounamu (rifleman), riroriro (grey warbler), piwakawaka (fantail) and karearea (falcon)


Omarama has a lovely tribute to the merino sheep (selfie opportunity).

The Clay Cliffs – An unusual geological formation of spectacular ‘badlands’ eroded pinnacles and gulches.The Clay Cliffs are also an important backdrop to the local high country landscape – a wide braided river valley covered mainly in tussock grassland. The Clay Cliffs are made of layers of gravel and silt, deposited by rivers flowing from glaciers existing 1-2 million years ago. Compared to the nearby mountains, which are 250 million years old, the Clay Cliffs are relatively new. Today the gravel and silt layers can be seen as sloping bands as the strata have been tilted since their deposition 1-2 million years ago.The private owners have protected the site under a QEII open space covenant and charge $5 to assist with the cost of providing public access facilities. Car park and walking tracks are available. 10k west of Omarama on the road to Twizel


Something from LOTR, perhaps.

And what do you know, there are Lord of the Ring tours available in the area. When I wrote the comment on the photo, I didn’t know 🙂


I must stop in at the salmon farm, just before Twizel, fish for dinner 🙂

Accommodation: Lake Ruataniwha Holiday Park & Motels

Max Smith Dr

Phone: +64 3 435 0613


Internet: cost


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