Living in Central

Central Otago offers a relaxed outdoor lifestyle. It’s a unique and beautiful place with much to offer. Like many, you might come here to study and never want to leave.

Central Otago offers a safe, friendly environment where you will soon get to know the locals. If you’re about to embark on a programme or short course at Central, let us help you get the basics sorted. Read on to find out about Central Otago’s climate, accommodation, schooling for your family, leisure activities, medical centres and more.


Central Otago has a ‘continental’ climate, with hot dry summers and cold winters. It is a land of extremes – each season is sharply defined.

Summer temperatures range from 10 to 30C, while in winter, temperatures can range from minus 6 to 15C. In both summer and winter, Central Otago is famous for its clear light and wide skies. Spring and autumn are special times in this region. Fruit blossom carpets the orchards in the spring, and the trees turn red, yellow and gold in the autumn.

Find out more about Cromwell’s climate.


There is a wide range of accommodation options for students in Central Otago. Choose between renting a room in a flat, staying in a studio or hostel, or homestay accommodation. 

Flatting accommodation

Many students love the experience of renting a house together with friends and other students. When flatting, you will share living costs such as electricity, telephone and food.

In Central Otago, unfurnished flats generally cost between $85-$115 per week per room with another $80-$100 in expenses like power, phone and food. Furnished flats typically cost slightly more – about $120-$140 per week, and are less common. Your expenses will most likely be the same as in an unfurnished property. Cromwell real estate agents have details of rental properties available within the area.

Otago Polytechnic manages a small amount of rental property within Cromwell, which will cost $125-$143 per week plus expenses. Please contact Barbara Emmitt ( 0800 765 9276) if you are interested in this option.

Studio and hostel accommodation

The Chalets ( is an unsupervised hostel where you can rent a single room for $125 per week, including electricity. Students are usually placed together in one of the chalets, sharing lounge, bathroom and kitchen facilities.

Homestay accommodation

In a homestay, you will live with a local family in their home. There is limited availability of homestay accommodation in Central Otago. Homestays cost around $231-$242 per week (all meals included), plus a one-off placement fee of $250.

Start looking!

Some great places to start your search include:


Are you about to embark on a programme at Central, and need a school for your children? This region has a range of schooling options.

If you’re looking for a school close to campus, Cromwell has two primary schools and one secondary school.

Goldfields School (primary school)
23 Gilling Place, Cromwell 

Cromwell Primary School
Molyneux Avenue, Cromwell

Cromwell College (secondary school)
Barry Avenue, Cromwell

Molyneux Educare (pre-school)

Molyneux Educare is a community-based, family-focused preschool for children up to five years of age. Located in Cromwell, parents are invited to take the time to visit the Centre and meet the team anytime.

17 Molyneux Avenue, Cromwell
Phone +64 3 445 0632

Wanaka has two primary schools, one high school, and a choice of preschools.

Wanaka Primary School
7 Ironside Drive, Wanaka

Holy Family Catholic School
152 Aubrey Road, Wanaka
Phone +64 3 443 2394

Mount Aspiring College
Plantation Road, Wanaka
Phone +64 3 443 0499

Aspiring Beginnings Early Learning Centre
120 Warren Street, Wanaka
Phone +64 3 443 1181

Montessori Childern’s House
122 Kings Drive, Wanaka
Phone +64 3 443 8389

Oanaka educare
45 Connor Street, Wanaka
Phone +64 3 443 4076

Wanaka Preschool
106 Tenby Street, Wanaka
Phone +64 3 443 7090

 Leisure activities

Central Otago is New Zealand’s adventure playground – when you’re not studying,  this region has much to offer. 

  • Cycle one of the many trails in the region from the Central Otago Rail Trail to the Wanaka and Queenstown network of trails.
  • Walk the many hill tracks, or go hiking or mountain biking
  • Boat, swim, sail, kayak, wind-surf or fish in one of the local rivers and lakes
  • Play a round of golf on one the local courses or chip ‘n’ putt at our Bannockburn Road site
  • Rock climb in our stunning natural landscapes or enjoy the indoor climbing wall in Wanaka
  • Enjoy the view and savour the region’s food and wine at one of the local restaurants and cafes
  • Visit vineyards, where you can take a tour, visit the cellar or dine
  • Catch a movie or visit one of the local libraries on a rainy day
  • Visit the historical buildings in Old Cromwell Town, Clyde and Ophir
  • Discover the old mining landscapes at the Bannockburn Sluicings and the Carrick and Bendigo Goldfields
  • Pan for gold at the Kawarau Gorge Gold Mining Centre
  • Visit the ‘lake in a lake’ at Mou Waho Island on Lake Wanaka
  • Go horse riding in Cardrona
  • Discover Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Go to one of the many festivals and concerts in the region
  • In winter, ski at one of the many ski-fields in Central
  • Go to a race day at Highlands Motorsport Park, Speedway or the Cromwell horseracing track
  • Join one of the many sports clubs or cultural groups who are always keen to have new members

Queenstown, being a larger town, offers a wide range of shopping and nightlife. It is also where you can bungy-jump and enjoy other high-adrenaline activities.

Find out more about more about tourism in the Cromwell area.

Find more about tourism in the Wanaka area.

Swimming Centre

Cromwell Swim Centre is a fully-equipped indoor heated swimming pool complex with two pools. A great selection of organised weekday activities is available including aqua aerobics, canoeing, water babies, learn-to-swim and lifesaving. There are well appointed changing rooms - private cubicles, hot showers and lockers.

Barry Avenue, Cromwell
Phone +64 3 455 0919

NRG Health and Fitness

NRG Health and Fitness is Cromwell’s only fully-equipped health and fitness centre. They have a full calendar of weekly fitness classes including spin, running, Zumba, yoga and much more. Personal training is also available.

At Cromwell Pool, Barry Avenue, Cromwell
Phone +64 3 445 4880

Wanaka Community Pool

Wanaka Pool is a 25-metre, 6-lane heated indoor swimming pool that's situated 5 minutes drive from central Wanaka, and is open every day except Christmas Day. There is  also a large outdoor area with tables, chairs and a BBQ which are available for anyone to use. It's a great area to relax in with family and friends on a sunny summer's day.

121 Plantation Rd, Wanaka
Phone +64 3 443 9334

Latitude Health and Fitness

15-19 Cliff Wilson Street, Wanaka (in the same building as our campus)
Phone +64 3 669 3444 

Proactive Health and Fitness

17 Plantation Road, Wanaka
New Zealand
Phone +64 3 443 6500

 Central Otago Medical Centres

Please note: Student ID or a Community Services card is required for medical consultations.

Cromwell Medical Centre
Phone +64 3 445 1119
190 Waenga Drive, Cromwell

Junction Health
Phone +64 3 445 4588
1A Traders Lane, Cromwell

Cromwell Family Practice
Phone +64 3 445 4666
3/39 Barry Avenue, Cromwell

Aspiring Medical Centre
Phone +64 3 443 1226
23 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka 

Wanaka Medical Centre
Phone +64 3 443 0710
23 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka

Queenstown Medical Centre
Phone +64 3 441 0500
9 Isle Street, Queenstown


The main Central campus is located in Cromwell, while Wanaka is the hub for our snow, multisport and sustainability programmes. Aside from thriving tourism, horticulture and viticulture industries, Cromwell is a service hub with a range of businesses and services. You can find most of Cromwell’s shops in the Cromwell Mall, just off Barry Avenue. Wanaka is more of a tourist destination, bustling with both summer and winter visitors.

View a list of Cromwell’s businesses and services – including professional and commercial services, retail stores, horticultural and trade services.

View a list of Wanaka’s businesses and services here.