Queenstown wine trail: Visit fine Central Otago wineries

Over the years Queenstown has lured pioneers, farmers, gold prospectors and, more recently, thrill seekers and wine enthusiasts with its majestic rugged landscape and fertile vineyards.

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Nestled on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by imposing mountain ranges in New Zealand’s South Island, it’s not difficult to understand why film director Peter Jackson used the area as a mythical location for many scenes in the blockbusting Lord of the Rings films. Queenstown’s natural beauty also lends itself to an exhaustive range of adrenaline fuelled activities – including bungy jumping, white water rafting, skydiving and skiing on the snow peaked mountains. This has seen the area labelled New Zealand’s ‘Adventure Capital’, making it a popular destination for young backpackers.

When not plotting a course through the Queenstown wine trail, the area can be discovered by: land, with miles upon miles of hiking and bicycle trails; sea, as part of relaxing cruise of the Milford Sound; or air via scenic flights over many of the prime attractions. The main town can feel overrun by indulgers of adventure and nightlife, especially during peak summer and winter seasons – but there are several surrounding towns that offer a more tranquil atmosphere if relaxation in between Queenstown wine trails is a preference.

However, Queenstown’s position within the revered Central Otago wine region has also brought a more discerning clientele through enotourism – drawing wine lovers with the promise of sampling some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir during a variety of Queenstown wine trail tours.Central Otago is fast becoming one of New Zealand’s most respected wine regions, producing not only internationally renowned Pinot Noir but also premium quality Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Gris – with over 50 wineries that can be explored along the Queenstown wine trail.

The world’s most southerly vineyards have been rated by some wine critics as among the top five wine growing regions in the world – while few would argue Central Otago is also the most scenic. Tours of Queenstown wine trails leave from the town daily and typically visit vineyards across several sub-regions such as Bannockburn, the Cromwell areas and Gibbston Valley – where there is the unique opportunity to sample vintages from an underground wine cave. Many of the wineries on the Queenstown wine trail map are boutique estates specialising in premium artisan wines, which can be combined with delectable platters of local cuisine or cheese tasting as part of a gourmet food and wine tour.

gourmet food and wine tour

Queenstown, which was also voted as the world’s friendliest city by readers of Conde Naste Traveller, is not New Zealand’s premier holiday destination for wine alone. The region’s peerless beauty is guaranteed to take visitors’ breath away – with natural attractions including the country’s highest peak Mount Cook, spectacular glaciers and the Milford Sound. The Milford Sound is New Zealand’s answer to the Grand Canyon, and considered a must-see for anyone visiting Queenstown. Carved during the ice age, the area features acute cliffs punctuated by waterfalls that plunge into the sea – it is New Zealand’s most popular tourist destination with over 550,000 visitors a year.

When not plotting a course through the Queenstown wine trail, the area can be discovered by: land, with miles upon miles of hiking and bicycle trails; sea, as part of relaxing cruise of the Milford Sound; or air via scenic flights over many of the prime attractions. The main town can feel overrun by indulgers of adventure and nightlife, especially during peak summer and winter seasons – but there are several surrounding towns that offer a more tranquil atmosphere if relaxation in between Queenstown wine trails is a preference. Established during the gold rush in the 1860s, Arrowtown is a living historical settlement featuring picturesque tree-lined streets with many of the buildings restored to their original state – including a Chinese settlement built by foreign miners over 150 years ago. And, Glenorchy on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu may as well be Tolkein’s Middle Earth itself.

If you are interested in exploring the Queenstown wine trail, contact our local expert for more information and inspirational ideas before planning a bespoke trip that can be tailor made to your requirements.

 

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