Alexandra is one of the biggest towns in Central Otago, and chances are that if you’re travelling around the region you’ll end up there eventually. It could be tempting to do some shopping at the Warehouse, grab some KFC and move on, but there are heaps of fun things to do in Alexandra, both in the town itself and the surrounding area.
Things to Do in Alexandra (the Town)
I’ll start this post off with some of the best things to do in Alexandra town – you won’t need a car to do these (but some require a bike).
Shaky Bridge / The Clock on the Hill
If you’re looking for an entertaining short walk, head for Shaky Bridge and the Clock on the Hill — it seems like a long way up but it doesn’t take long to get up there. You’ll first cross Shaky Bridge and then head up the hill. From the top you can see some vineyards and the town stretching out below.
Check out the River
The Clutha River passes through Alexandra, so if you’re walking around town you’ll probably want to see it. The river is very close to the main shopping street, and there are some nice views on offer if you look for them.
There’s an old, ruined bridge (next to the big main one) and if you go in autumn you’ll see some colourful leaves – definitely a good time to visit Central Otago!
Shopping and eating
Apart from KFC (which is rare in these parts), there are heaps of places to eat and drink in Alexandra. We go to Ferris Road Brewery quite often (good beer and pizza) and the Courthouse Café is good for cakes and desserts.
Pioneer Park / Museum
There’s a museum located at Pioneer Park, a big green space close to downtown Alexandra. I can’t remember going in but I’m sure it’s interesting (heaps of history in these parts). The park itself is interesting enough, but you’ll definitely want to visit if the blossoms are out (September). There’s also a market there during the summer (Saturday mornings).
The Otago Central Rail Trail passes through Alexandra. It’s a multiday ride but you can do a short section if you want to get a taste of it. You could ride from Alexandra to Clyde and back – you’ll pass a really cool bridge along the way and get some nice vineyard views.
Other Bike Rides
If you’re on a bike there’s heaps to explore around Alexandra. You could ride to Lake Roxburgh (takes some planning though as you need a boat to cross the river) or ride the riverside track between Alexandra and Clyde. A good option would be to ride along the river track one way and the rail trail on the way back.
Slightly Further Afield
The rest of this things to do in Alexandra list are located outside of town. You’ll need some transport to get there (I guess you could ride a bike if you’re fit!).
Walks Near Alexandra
You can walk along the rail trail or Alexandra – Clyde River track, but there are also some good walks outside of town. Our favourite is the Flat Top Hill Track. From the top of the track you can see down the Clutha River and the town of Alexandra – one of the better views in Central Otago.
The other walk I’d recommend is the Conroys Dam Track – some great views and it’s pretty easy.
Dams / Reservoirs
Central Otago is a barren place, so there’s a massive need for irrigation. This means there are quite a few dams / reservoirs scattered around, and they’re usually interesting places to seek out. Some of the best include Fraser Dam (very scenic drive to get there), Butchers Dam (you’ll see this on the Flat Top Hill Track) and Conroys Dam.
A little further away is probably the best one of all – Poolburn Dam. It was featured in the Lord of the Rings and is a great place to visit on a sunny day.
Old Man Range
High above Alexandra, the Old Man Range is a very different environment to the valleys it looms over. It’s a high-altitude moonscape and the views are awesome from the top – if you’ve got a FWD I highly recommend it.
The fact that vineyards, wineries and wine in general is so low on this list says more about me than the region. It’s a very famous wine region in New Zealand, and if you like wine (which I obviously don’t) you might be keen to visit a vineyard and explore some of the winemaking processes. Or just drink lots of wine on a tasting tour or vineyard visit.
The vineyards are close to town, so you could ride a bike to some of them or join a tour. We helped to harvest the grapes on season at Perseverance Estate – it’s a quaint little vineyard and would be a good option for a tasting.
Historic stone cottages are on of the hallmarks of Central Otago, and one of the best ones to visit is close to Alexandra. Mitchell’s Cottage is a fun place to look around and has been nicely restored. It’s on the way to the Old Man Range, so stop by if you’re heading up there.
Explore Central Otago
Alexandra is a good base for exploring Central Otago. There’s heaps to see in the region, including lots of historic places and some interesting nature. Check out my post on the best things to do in Central Otago for some trip-planning inspiration!
Are you planning a trip to Alexandra? Let me know in the comments below!