‘Central’ is a paradise for fruit-loving holiday makers in summer – visit the roadside stalls stacked with fresh apricots, plums, nectarines, sweet cherries, apples and juices – or have fun “picking your own” tree-ripened fruit at “PYO” orchards.
Fruit growing has been a major industry in Central Otago for many years, and creates many jobs, both permanent and seasonal. Settlers who stayed on in Central Otago after the gold rush had a rare chance to get some land and make their own living by farming. The sunny, dry summer climate with crisp, cold winters was obviously ideal for growing fruit. The arrival of the Otago Central Railway made it easier for farmers in the “Garden of Otago” (as it was called in Dunedin) to get their produce to market – the region still produces some of the world’s best stone fruits, and pip fruits, especially apples.
The industry has had to adapt over the years; over half the crop is now exported and most fruit is no longer processed here. Try some of the local dried apricots – great snack food for cyclists. And health-conscious foodies will be pleased to know that most New Zealand stone fruit farmers use their own “Summergreen” pest management scheme, hugely reducing the use of chemicals. So, if you are getting a bit hot and tired on your bike – stop and try a local fruit juice – there are lots of delicious flavours to choose from