There are many towns throughout New Zealand’s heritage Otago region that offer a bounty of things to do, but which many international tourists have never heard of. Kurow is one such location, hidden away beneath the Saint Mary’s mountain range beside the gently flowing Waitaki River, secluded away from the stresses of urban life.
If you’re in need of a quality NZ road trip, pick up a rental car at Dunedin Airport and check out this itinerary.
Depart from Dunedin
You could boost up State Highway (SH) 1 for the most direct route to your first stop, but this is an adventure through small-town New Zealand! Take the opportunity to see more of its charm by turning right at Evansdale and meandering along Coast Road. You’ll pass through the settlement of Karitane, a historic place home to Huriawa Peninsula – a short walking trail where you might catch a glimpse of fur seals basking in sunlight on the ocean rocks. Hashtag selfie moment!
Mosey up to Moeraki
Just 35 minutes up the road, and back on SH1, you’ll be able to stop at one of the country’s most famous geological features. The Moeraki Boulders are a collection of almost perfectly spherical rocks of varying size scattered along Koekohe Beach, some of which weigh several tonnes. These are an iconic photographic sight, and simply cannot be missed.
Want to do a little more while you’re here? Moeraki Fishing Charters offers you the chance to catch blue cod, crayfish and paua for your dinner later. If it gets too late in the day, simply grab a room at local accommodation such as Moeraki Boulders Kiwi Holiday Park, which is right next to the eponymous stones and situated on a scenic reserve with immediate access to the beach. Whether you need a room or a place to pitch a tent, you’ll find affordable space here with all the comforts a traveller could want.
Onward to Oamaru
Go a little further up the road and you’ll be at the largest town in northern Otago, Oamaru. Shops and art galleries abound here, surrounded on all sides by some of the country’s best examples of 19th century architecture. But that’s not all!
At the town’s waterfront is the Blue Penguin Colony, home to the world’s smallest species of penguin. The birds here make their homes in the cliffs by the Oamaru foreshore, and you can tour the facility to see their nesting boxes or, at night, the feathery critters themselves as they waddle back to shore (they feed at sea all day).
Carry on to Kurow
Just north is Pukeuri, where you can turn of SH1 and onto SH83, which winds its way inland to Kurow. You’ll be transfixed as twisting coastal beaches open up into vast farming plains, flanked by a backdrop of distant mountains. Soon you’ll be enveloped by these craggy peaks, and closing in on your final destination.
Kurow is a quiet town where you can leave behind the hustle and bustle of city life and simply enjoy being amongst good-natured people and a fantastic view. Up the road you’ll find the triple lakes of Waitaki, Aviemore and Benmore, perfect for a refreshing adventure holiday activity, or a dazzling road trip. Indeed, you can cross the Aviemore Dam on car, then sweep around the back of the lake upward to Benmore Dam to see the massive scale of Kiwi hydropower, and some genuinely astounding views.
Finish your trip by staying at Kurow Holiday Park, which boasts not only comfortable accommodation facilities, but also fishing rods and kayaks for hire (the latter of which are free to use).