I want to start off by saying: I love Queenstown. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in New Zealand. I’ve travelled to Queenstown in the winter and in the summer, and it’s hard to say which I love more. It’s also really hard to write and discuss ALL the reasons I love Queenstown and ALL the activities I recommend in one post, so I think I’m going to have to write a short series! I’m going to start it off with my favorite – or one of my favorites, I have a hard time with favorites – wine tasting along the Gibbston River Trail.
Just a few months after James and I were married and starting my fifth year living in New Zealand, my two best friends visited us New Zealand for 10-days. We spent time on both the North and South Island, and we spent 2-3 of those days in Queenstown.
Queenstown is definitely a wine region, the cooler temperatures and soil make it perfect for growing grapes, or so they say. I’m no expert. There’s many wineries in the Otago Region – many which are accessible by the Bike Trail!
We booked a tour through Around the Basin, and I’m so glad we did! They picked us up at our hotel, drove us to Arrowtown, which is a small, old miner’s village nestled along the river. Think old store fronts and narrow streets – worth a visit in itself! They gave us a map with the bike trail and the wineries. They told us they’d pick us up at Gibbston Tavern in a few hours, but not to worry because if we didn’t make it there they’d pick us up where we ended up.
Make it there, I thought to myself, we’re going to go beyond it! We’re young, fit girls with a taste for wine and we’re on a wine tour after all. They set us up with mountain bikes and helmets. Becky, Lindsay, and I were all dressed up in cute clothes – not mountain biking attire – and kind of laughed when they gave us helmets. Like, what do we need this for? I’m pretty sure one of us asked “do we need to wear these?”. He chuckled and said, “uh, I’d probably wear it”. We thought we were doing a nice, leisurely bike ride from winery to winery, with maybe a few minutes ride in between each winery. I was picturing pretty bikes, with baskets maybe, along a smooth path.
I’m not sure what we were thinking, I should have known better. Queenstown is the “adventure capital of the world”. We were so wrong!! And I’m so glad we were!
From Arrowtown to our first winery, Gibbston Valley Winery was nearly 12 kilometers! Twelve kilometres of mountain biking! I’m talking steep climb and windy downhills. Pretty sure I had to get off my bike and push it up a few hills. But it was so beautiful!!
The Queenstown Bike Trail runs parallel to the river, and then over suspension bridges. Honestly, every turn is just as beautiful as the last. The trail will take you right next to the river’s edge by rope swings, and then high up in the hills overlooking the water. We got lost once, but a local redirected us, so we probably ended up doing more than 12 kilometers.
When we finally rode into Gibbston Valley Winery, huffing and puffing, we said, “I know we’re here for the wine, but can we get some water first!” We chugged our glasses of water, ordered our wine and soaked in the amazing, colourful garden. Before we went on to the next winery, we stopped and ordered a delicious cheese platter from the Cheese Co next door.
Then, it was onto the next one! Another 3-4 kilometers away, we landed at Peregrine Winery. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember we could taste three wines for free! Hello, happiness!
This winery had modern vibe with cooler, stone tones. It had an amazing wing like roof which was hard to miss, and a very cool cellar room with barrels on barrels of wine.
Then on to the third winery Remarkable Wines Cellar Door. Thankfully, as we went along the wineries got a bit closer together, this one less than 1 km away. This was a small building, and they sat us at a small stone table in the corner. At the long table next to us, was a larger group who was getting a class about how to properly taste wine. Mind you, everyone is very serious and quiet, and here we are – three 20-something girls who are on their third winery. We were snorting through our noses trying not to laugh, and not interrupt the class.
We didn’t stay too long there, and made the quick ride to our last stop, The Gibbston Tavern, which was right next door. This was our final stop. We ordered cider, beer and a big basket of hot chips (i.e. fries) and laughed ourselves sick for the rest of the afternoon. Under the umbrellas nestled in the hills, we ate and drank and drank some more, knowing the van was going to pick us up! They dropped us off back at our hotel, we stumbled up to our room and crashed.
It was the best. If you love a bit of adventure and a whole lot of wine, wine tasting along the Gibbston Valley Wine Trail is definitely for you!! Have you done this? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear about your experience!
P.S. Thank you to Lindsay for letting me use some of her photos from this trip! Check out her film photography on her Instagram.