Located less than 20 minutes from Wanaka and 45 minutes from Queenstown, the iconic Cardrona Hotel is one of two buildings remaining from the gold rush in the mid 1800’s. What was once a flurry of mining and commercial activity in the Cardrona Valley is now a sleepy hamlet that attracts drive-through visitors plus skiers and boarders on their way to or from the mountains.
Whilst the façade of the hotel appears very much as it did when it was built in the 1860’s, much of its rear has been refurbished and extended to accommodate the increase in diners and drinkers. And those that are up for staying the night can even book a room to sample the bustling Cardrona Village nightlife.
It’s pub grub all the way at the hotel, with edibles available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chowder, burgers, crumbed venison and seafood platters sit alongside fried camembert, nachos and hoisin lamb ribs. Something for just about everyone – even the kiddies.
I fell head-over-heels with the merino lamb & thyme sausages in the bangers & mash (19.5). None of those nasty mass-produced “filler” sausages here, folks. The trio of bangers pack some flavour with just enough mash, gravy and peas to seal the deal. Ok, perhaps not enough peas. There are never enough peas, as far as I’m concerned.
The beer battered blue cod (27) is a fine example of how fish and chips should be done, with a thin, crisp batter that isn’t overly oily or stodgy. Winterslaw and tartare come with it.
Whether it’s drinks at the pub with your mates or a quiet weekend away, the Cardrona sure is a place worthy of a visit.
Cardrona Hotel – 2310 Cardrona Valley Road, Wanaka
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