Sports and Outdoor Recreation in Central Otago

Experience the thrill of the luge; the joy of ice skating outdoors; and the sense of tradition and challenge that is the ancient Scottish ice sport of curling. It is all here – in Central Otago’s winter wonderland.

The region is the only one in New Zealand that experiences continental climatic conditions. Consequently, the seasons are vividly well defined. Winter is characterised by frosts, ice and snow. At its best the snow caps the mountains and lies across the high country, hoar frosts reveal their eerie beauty and the dams and ponds of Central Otago freeze solid. And then the fun begins.

Locals have curled and skated on these natural ice rinks since the 1800s. First it was the gold miners – their essential water sources for sluicing, frozen – who along with the farmers had time on their hands to indulge in curling. Many had played this sport, which is akin to bowls on ice but using 20kg granite stones, in their homeland. They instilled the curling the time-honoured traditions that still hold true today.

Clubs and many individuals still do curl and skate on the frozen dams, but the development of commercial venues in recent times has ensured consistently reliable conditions and greater accessibility for recreational and occasional users.

The small alpine town of Naseby has become known as the region’s ice sports’ capital. Its complex includes an all-year, indoor, dedicated, Olympic-standard curling rink; an outdoor ice skating rink ;and a natural (outdoor) ice luge track, which is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

Whether it’s the ice rink in Alexandra, the ice sports’ complex in Naseby or nature’s own expanses of ice that draw you, a magical winter experience awaits you in Central Otago.
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