Despite only being an hour or so from tourism heavyweights Wanaka and Queenstown, Central Otago is a place where you can easily escape the crowds. We only saw one other person while walking the Conroys Dam Track (located in the Aldinga Conservation Area) — if you want to do a walk not many others have done it’s well worth a look. It also helps that the scenery is really nice and there are some interesting remnants from Central Otago’s past on show.
Hiking the Conroys Dam Track
The track meanders steadily uphill for the first section. You’ll be walking next to farmland flanked by rugged hills. Keep a look out for the tiny ruined cottage in the middle of the farmland.
The track is easy to navigate and before long you’ll reach a tiny house built into a rock. You can peek inside and see how the original occupant (probably a gold miner) would have lived. It’s basic — just a bed and a stove — but I guess that’s all you need.
From there you’ll head down to the river and up the other side of the valley. The green band of trees contrasts nicely with the barren surrounds — this part would be even cooler with colourful autumn leaves.
Another ruined dwelling awaits, and from there you’ll continue down the hill and back to the small car park. The Conroys Dam hike took us around 90 minutes and was fairly easy — it was the perfect entree to the Roys Peak hike which we did early the next morning.
If you’re not up for a hike it’s still worth visiting Conroys Dam. The little lake is beautiful on a clear day and the dam itself — when there is water flowing through it — is pretty cool to see. You can walk down to the edge of the lake from the track’s car park or you can drive around to the dam part on the way out.
Other Dams in Central Otago
I highly recommend a visit to Butchers Dam (and the Flat Top Hill Hike) which is also close to Alexandra. There are also other dams in the area, including Frasers Dam and Poolburn Dam (although those are a little harder to get to).
Getting to Conroys Dam
Conroys Dam is located a short distance from Alexandra, on the conveniently named Conroys Dam Road. It’s easy to find but look out for the slightly rough gravel road towards the end.
Are you planning a trip to Central Otago? Which places are you planning to visit? Let us know in the comments below!
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