New Zealand Recs - Otago Region

I eat a fair amount of lamb and was very impressed with what was served. We got ours to go and ate in the room. Highly suggest staying at an apartment that has a deck/patio with a view of the Remarkable’s

Thanks, Stephen! Will definitely add to my list.

General question for all - About how much time would you allocate per tasting at every winery? I ask because when I was in Argentina (Mendoza), some wineries make you do a tour before you get to the tasting. Others straight up do a tasting. Not sure how it works in NZ - I’d love to get through as many tastings possible to hit as many locations. For example, in Paso Robles here in CA, I have been able to fit in about 6-8 locations in a day. Granted, they’re close together, but I don’t dily daly, I really do just enjoy tasting, analysis, and I’m out the door. I have a list of 10 locations in NZ to do, and wondering how many days I should allocate to hit all 10 places. In my optimistic head I think I can hit up 5 in a day. In the lake area I have 4 wineries (Rippon, Maude, Aitken, and Akitu). Any advice would be great! [thankyou.gif]

Most of the places I went to had tasting rooms with no tour.

You can knock out a tasting pretty quickly. Keep in mind appointment tastings may include winery background, grape sources, etc. and some appointments are a small group which could lengthen the tasting is you have to wait for others. None of the tastings had tours that we were a part of.

Thanks, Paul & Stephen! That gives me an extra day at my leisure. As I said, I can usually knock out tastings pretty quickly since I don’t drink (I spit) and will be on my own. So excited! Now just figuring where to stay. Can’t wait!! [thankyou.gif]

You got some good advice above. Personally I’d leave Queenstown after a day or so. As mentioned very touristy and gimmicky. We lucked into a lovely stay at the Cardrona Valley Lodge. I say lucked in because it is a long story but we had to leave the Franz Josef Glacier area due to an E Coli outbreak and that lodge happened to have a room available for the nights we needed. The owner is on some syndicated TV show and he is a hunter and chef. While we were there he was on site cooking us meals, offering us a bottle of wine upon check in knowing our story, etc. If you want a beautiful small town go to Wanaka. We stayed at Wanaka Haven and they too were just a fantastic host and hostess.

We are fortunate to travel a lot (6 of the 7 continents, etc). We’ve been to Rioja, Tuscany, Mendoza, Wachau/Burgenland, Central Otago and others just for wine regions. Central Otago is one of the few places I’d literally considering upping my life and just moving out there. That said, Queenstown is not where it is at. Head up further north. Wanaka and Cardrona are amazing

You also asked about tours - we used this company and we were very happy with the full day wine tour: https://www.roaringtours.co.nz/ - we went to this region before I knew much about the wines of the region and the 5-6 vineyards they picked (based on asking what kind of wine we like) were very much spot on and it was a great introduction to the wines of the region. Due to the season of our visit (February) we also stopped at some fruit farms and picked our own cherries which was great for snacking on back in the hotel room!

Milford Sound is probably the best trip from Queenstown. We did a trip with a bus ride out there and a small plane ride back. While in Wanaka we also did a helicopter ride to visit some glaciers. Wanaka is right at the foot of Mount Aspiring National Park. If you like hiking you owe it to yourself to visit (weather permitting of course). The Rob Roy Glacier Track is a very nice hike but there are shorter ones in the region as well.

PM me if you want any more information, glad to share it. We spent 11 days from Christchurch to Queenstown (yes we spent 2 nights in Queenstown which I’d give back for another night or two in Wanaka!) and it was the most memorable trip of a lifetime.

Seems like you’ve got some great info so far, so most all I can add is reiteration.

My wife and I spent a fair amount of time in the area last year and would say:

For me, Queenstown is good for a day, maybe 36 hours tops. That is unless you’re 20 years old and on gap year or looking to meet the like. I mean to say that it’s nice for a look around but it can get old fast if you’re not looking for that vibe.

We did a day trip out of Queenstown to Milford Sound that I would highly recommend. It consisted of a flight to Milford Sound, a boat tour through the sound and a flight back. This fight there and back will save you more time than I can say, but the flights are very weather dependent.

Cromwell is most central to a majority of wineries in the area but there just isn’t much else there. Reminds me a bit of Jackson, WY before the commercialization of the last 20-30 years. I don’t mean this in a bad or good way.

Though we only made it to a handful of wineries in Central Otago, I felt we hit a good bit. Felton Road is a must. They do a tour, then tasting. Wine is at least as good as anywhere else in NZ we visited, if not better. They have a stellar reputation. Also, completely anecdotal, but my wife and I had rented an RV for a long tour of the South Island which happened to get stuck at Felton Road in their designated RV parking area as it had just rained. It took nearly 20 of their cellar/vineyard staff the better part of half an hour to help get us out. More and more kept turning up until we were loose. As folks saw we were stuck more turned up to help. Such wonderful people. Just an overall positive spin on a crappy circumstance. Thank goodness we were there before harvest was over.

I’m not sure whether you’re planning on visiting other areas of the South Island, but we had some great wine experiences up in Waipara just north of Christchurch. I would highly recommend Black Estate there. Pegasus Bay was also worthwhile and I’ve heard great things about Pyramid Valley.

Hi Eric, Thanks for the info! I am considering spending more time in Wanaka (non wine related) to explore a bit, and Cardrona. I did email that tour company a month ago actually, but they require 2 people and I’m a solo traveler so I was not allowed to make a reservation. Which is okay… I like to be freelance as much as possible :slight_smile: I may message you privately to share my itinerary and see if there’s a place where I should spend more time. I’m beginning my time in NZ with a full 15 day tour of the whole country (both islands) and then I’m on my own for a week.

CW - Thanks for the tips. Looks like I may have to take that trip to Millford Sound that everyone talks about. Where is the best place to fly out of? Wanaka or Queenstown? I was possibly skipping Queenstown since my 2 week tour includes Queenstown already.

Thanks so much!!! [thankyou.gif]

I forgot about black water rafting—if it’s at all your thing and you can get to the north island site (forget where that is) or Te Anau in the south…it is the one thing I absolutely regret missing, but the caves were flooded when I was there.

You really do need to get to Milford if you can. I didn’t hike, but even driving and looking that way…I composed a piece about it which I called “The Crying Mountains”.

Happy to help!

We flew out of Queenstown. We did this tour https://www.airmilford.co.nz/milford-sound-flights/milford-fly-nature-cruise-fly.html.

I’m sure a flight from Wanaka would be just as great. For us, the real reason we did the flight was to save driving time as the r/t flight and cruise were a combined 4 hours versus much much longer driving in an RV.

Glad to help if you have any further questions. It was one of my favorite trips ever so would be glad to relive it and help you plan some stuff out. Just keep in mind “freelance” is good because roads can close down very quickly due to mudslides and storms and there are not many “highways” - we spent our 10-11 days mostly all on the west coast of the south island we were 3-4 hours from missing a mudslide that would have made us trapped up by the Glaciers for 48 hours. So being flexible is important!

36 hours in Queenstown
New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/travel/what-to-do-36-hours-in-queenstown.html?action=click&module=Editors%20Picks&pgtype=Homepage&te=1&nl=travel-dispatch&emc=edit_tl_20200229&campaign_id=24&instance_id=16371&segment_id=21751&user_id=8b3c7b27529696d8a0a2c25f12e8906c&regi_id=5036605emc=edit_tl_20200229

Hello, wine friends,

I did not end up going to my NZ trip. The day before I was going to fly out, the NZ PM announced the mandatory isolation for anyone arriving to NZ. So I am doing the next best thing and ordering some wine from K&L from NZ to enjoy at home. I will be setting up this trip once again in the future when the world returns to its new normal. With all the tips - I honestly think I need about 4 weeks in NZ to make it work the time and travel. I’m grateful for a second chance to make this trip spectacular!

I did get to go to my trip to Antarctica! It was spectacular! I even brought home some gin made in the Falkland Islands. I spent 20 days on a boat with bookends of Ushuaia and Buenos Aires. I am not obsessed with penguins :slight_smile:

Mike G - I’ve done level 5 White Water Rafting in Costa Rica - but never heard of Black Water Rafting. I was definitely planning Milford Sound after all the recs!

CW - Thanks for the link to the air transport! I had looked at full day bus trips (From 6am to 11pm) but air seems like a great option. I was leaning toward a bus b/c then I can kayak and peruse at leisure a bit. I’ll have time to plan out things better in the future :slight_smile:

Eric - thanks for the tips on being flexible. I tend to always freelance trips anyways. And I have to say, I have the most fun on detours :slight_smile:

I hope everyone is safe and healthy out there. Cheers!

Thanks for the article, Paul! I was so excited to do the shotover jet. Will definitely be on the list when I finally go! Cheers, mate!