Although the Waipara Valley wine region doesn’t always feature in glossy magazines, New Zealand oenophiles flock to this small slice of Canterbury for some of the country’s best gewürztraminer, as well as its uniquely rich pinot noir and riesling. Best of all, it’s more accessible from Christchurch than the South Island’s other wine destinations.
Spurred by demand for richer cool-climate wines, the Waipara Valley is one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing wine regions. With a growing number of cellar doors to choose from, a guided tour eliminates the stress of choosing one fantastic winery over another. Group tours tend to stop in at some excellent vineyards along the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail, while private tours let you pick off-the-beaten-track tasting rooms, as well as olive groves and lavender gardens.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Waipara Valley is perfect for wine lovers, road-trippers, and lovers of picturesque rural scenery.
Enjoy a whistlestop half-day tour from Christchurch or stay a little longer, with boutique accommodation available.
Dress for a range of temperatures, as the Waipara Valley can get quite warm and quite cool in the same day.
While some tasting rooms are accessible to wheelchair users, accessible bathrooms and accommodation can be difficult to find in the valley.
How to Get There
The Waipara Valley is less than an hour’s drive from Christchurch on State Highway 1. Guided day tours from Christchurch take away any temptation to drive under the influence. Vintage train excursions operate on select Sundays in the area but don’t go as far as Christchurch.
When to Get There
Although the wines flow year-round, Waipara Valley is best explored between December and March, when it’s warm enough to enjoy open-air drinks and dining. The valley’s cellar doors are popular with locals, so consider a midweek visit to experience the valley with less company. The North Canterbury Wine and Food Festival, typically held in Waipara around early March, serves up fresh wine pairings from local artisan producers.
From Waipara to Hanmer Springs
Waipara Valley is a convenient halfway point to Hanmer Springs, a winter wonderland that is well known for thermal pools and quiet ski slopes. Instead of rushing up to Hanmer in a single day, enjoy an overnight stop to drink in the region’s scenery and recharge before heading north.
- Torlesse Wines
- Pegasus Bay Winery and Restaurant
- Waipara Springs Winery and Cafe
- Sumner Beach
- Willowbank Wildlife Reserve
- International Antarctic Centre
- Waimakariri River
- Orana Wildlife Park
- Mona Vale
- New Regent Street
- Transitional Cathedral (Cardboard Cathedral)
- Christchurch Tram
- Cashel Street
- Canterbury Museum
- Christchurch Arts Centre