Cromwell's present-day positive outlook belies a more recent past that brought confronting change and heartbreak. The construction of the Clyde Dam and the inundation of Lake Dunstan in 1992-93, meant for some the loss of homes, livelihoods and landscapes. Cromwell entered an unfamiliar, re-created world, as the submerged main street was replaced by a new purpose-built mall located some distance from the original retail centre.
The winding, raw riverscape of the Clutha Mata-au disappeared as the river swelled to become a 27km lake extending north of Cromwell and south through the gorge to Clyde. The captivating, natural beauty of the swirling, powerful energies and colours of two of New Zealand’s mightiest rivers meeting at the junction was gone forever, replaced by a more purposeful flow.
Cromwell Heritage Precinct
A motorsport mecca
Today, New Zealand’s farthest inland town has a new, uplifting energy as people are attracted to the Cromwell Basin’s sunny, dry climate, and the work and lifestyle opportunities. Now over 20 years on from its beginnings, Lake Dunstan has become the jewel in the Cromwell Basin’s crown - a glistening, inviting adventure playground.
Dynamic and positive, the Cromwell basin is Central Otagos' wild child come of age.
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