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Hire a bike, tie on your walking shoes, or join a tour and visit the cellar doors of wineries where the grapes are growing right outside the windows...
Where is the Waipara Valley?
The Waipara Valley is Canterbury’s secret gem, and is growing in reputation and visitors every year. It’s the ultimate escape to indulge in some me time, and is only 45 minutes drive north of Christchurch city.
Once you arrive in the picturesque valley, you can be forgiven for never wanting to leave – the rolling hills and grape-laden vines help you instantly relax.
Sheltered by the Teviotdale Hills, the area is protected from cool winds, but remains open to warm nor-westers – perfect wine making conditions. The valley has three sites – valley floor, hill slopes or river terraces. The different soils in these areas means each vineyard has its own unique flavours, and style of growing.
In the valley itself, you’ll find dozens of wineries, many with cellar door tastings which are an excellent way to sample the award-winning North Canterbury wines. The laid back vibe means it could very easily be the winemaker themselves pouring your drink and explaining their growing techniques.
Wine tasting is very affordable – it’s common to pay five dollars to taste five different wines at many of the wineries. It’s a fantastic way to get an idea of your favourite before you buy a bottle...or two.
Four of the vineyards have restaurants, set amid stunning scenery, and you will need to make a booking during the popular summer months – especially on weekends.
The Waipara Valley isn’t a built up area, and the wineries are spread out across the valley, so you could choose to travel between them using the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail. Developed to encourage walking and biking in the area, the trail begins at Glenmark Reserve, and passes through world-class vineyards and private farms.
You can choose to take a wine tour around the various wineries, giving you a chance to see the highlights, taste the wines and see where it originated from as you wander amongst the vines. The tours are a great option for smaller groups wanting to visit a variety of wineries, or those planning an event for work or leisure.
Waipara is an easy day trip from Christchurch, or choose to stay in one of the friendly neighbouring towns and make the most of all the different tastes North Canterbury has to offer.