Central Otago—one of the fastest-growing wine regions in New Zealand and the southernmost in the world—occupies a wide swath of mountainous terrain on the South Island. It’s the country’s only true continental wine region, with daily and seasonal temperature extremes perfect for growing wine grapes. Here’s what you need to know about the varietals and experiences on offer here.
The terroir of Otago wine country resembles that of Alsace or Germany, with hot, dry summers and crisp, snowy winters. These conditions produce some of the world’s best pinot noir, with grapes planted mostly in the area of Lake Dunstan. Besides the fruity, peppery reds, whites shine as well, particularly aromatics like pinot gris, riesling, and gewürztraminer. Visit any of the region’s numerous wineries and tasting rooms, and you’ll likely see chardonnay and sauvignon blanc make an appearance as well.
- Learn about cool-climate wines on a day trip to Central Otago from Queenstown.
- Visit large and small cellars for guided wine tastings.
- Feast on a winery lunch made from produce grown on local Otago farms.
- Pick up bottles of local wine and olive oil to take home as gifts or souvenirs.
- Sample several Otago wines in the wine bars of Dunedin, Queenstown, or Cromwell.