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Wine Tasting Near Christchurch

By Viator, July 2013

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When most people think of New Zealand and wine, they immediately think of Marlborough and Sauvignon Blanc. While Marlborough is in fact be the nation’s largest wine region, the country is covered in grapes and vineyards from Waiheke Island in the north to Otago in the south—an area considered to be the world’s southernmost wine region.

For wine tasting around Christchurch, oenophiles who are visiting the city are lucky enough to have the Waipara Valley only 40 minutes away. With over 80 wineries the Waipara Valley is New Zealand’s fastest growing wine region and specializes in Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Noir. While tastings and tours are available throughout the year, the best time of year to visit the region is during the Waipara Valley Wine and Food Festival held every year towards the end of March.

Continuing south past Waipara, there are also a couple of vineyards as you make your way north towards the coastal town of Kaikoura, set two hours north of Christchurch. If you choose to spend the entire day in Kaikoura you can enjoy the morning on a whale watch or dolphin cruise before spending the afternoon sipping at the vineyards.

Heading the other direction from Christchurch, there are a number of wineries as you make the drive south towards Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula. Only 30 minutes south of the city center, the valleys here have a comfortable climate and are home to New Zealand’s oldest vineyard of Pinot. Since the wineries here are smaller in size there won’t be the same amount of tasting opportunities as in Waipara or Marlborough, but it’s a little-visited corner of wine tourism that punctuates a day trip to Akaroa.

Finally, for those who are based in Christchurch and have a couple days to explore, the vineyards of Otago are a five hour drive, although the reward for the drive is sipping Pinot Noir which rivals even Oregon in quality. Or, the rolling Sauvignon hills of Marlborough are three and a half hours north of Christchurch, and the boutique region of Nelson is also five hours north.

Most who are looking for wine tasting near Christchurch, however, should base themselves in the Waipara Valley and become well-acquainted with the region’s fine wines. Despite being less than hour from the city, the rural valleys and sprawling vineyards give the feel of traveling to a separate corner of the world.

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