This region offers an abundance of food and wine experiences. In the Queenstown and Arrowtown areas, discover the ultimate in taste sensations with more than 150 great eateries to choose from in Queenstown and Arrowtown, not counting the winery restaurants between Lake Hayes and Gibbston.
And of course sampling a decadent drop or two of one of Central Otago's award-winning wines will provide the finishing touch to a heavenly dining experience.
Central Otago wines continue to be celebrated the world over. Skilled and innovative wine producers put the shaly soils and perfect wine growing conditions of the world's southernmost wine-producing region to good use, adding their own flair to create a rich family of varietals including the much sought after and acclaimed Pinot Noir, as well as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and celebratory bubbles.
There are 75 wineries in the region serving 177 vineyards. Local vineyards have between 900 and 1,000 hectares in production, producing more than 3,500 tonnes of grapes annually. Thirty two 'cellar door' operations can be visited under your own steam or with a wine tour. The area’s first commercial vineyard, Gibbston Valley Wines near Queenstown, features a wine cave and tour, seriously good lunches, wine tasting, an elegant gift shop and a cheesery. Wanaka is the location for the world famous Rippon Vineyard, one of the first in the Southern Lakes – and arguably the most beautiful setting for a vineyard anywhere in the world.
Central Otago is a place of sheer indulgence – whether it’s fine dining, a casual al-fresco lunch or café culture. You will be spoilt for choice when enjoying local fare and award winning wines at the great selection of cafés, restaurants, cellar doors and country pubs. There is no more perfect climate or location in which to enjoy al-fresco dining in New Zealand. If the mood takes you fill your backpack with a selection of gourmet foods, wine and fresh fruit and take to the hills to find a rock with a view to have lunch upon.
Most wineries offer visitors wine tasting and the opportunity to buy their wines. This cellar door experience provides access to the high quality wines of the region’s many small producers. It is more personal than going to a store or restaurant, as you are likely to meet the growers and/or winemaker.
Join an organised wine tour or nominate a driver to visit the area’s distinctive wine-growing sub-regions, each bearing their own matchless wine characteristics brought forth by the rugged, mountain landscape. Savour tastings at individual wineries, sampling the contrasts and complements of flavours and complexities, in a stunning, natural environment.
Spend time in the area’s largest wine-growing sub-region, the Cromwell Basin, where you can enjoy wineries at Bannockburn in the south, and Lowburn, Wanaka Road and Bendigo to the north. Going south, visit vines in the localities of Alexandra and Clyde, nestled among rugged schist tors in a dry intermontane basin.
Here are a selection of vineyards that we recommend you include in your South Island journey. For further inspiration, please visit here and here.
Mt Rosa Winery, Queenstown
Mt Rosa is a new Central Otago winery steeped in the agricultural history and culture of southern New Zealand. At 36 hectares, the vineyard is one of the largest in the Gibbston Valley. Directors Jeremy Railton and Guy Boanas are passionate about creating quality wine, helped by viticulturist Gary Crabbe and winemaker Dean Shaw. Look out for its pinot noir, chardonnary and sauvignon blanc.
Brennan Wines, Queenstown
A family owned and operated vineyard and winery, situated in the dramatic Gibbston sub-region of Central Otago. The majority of the vineyard is over 10 years old, representing some of the most mature vines in the area.
Brennan Wines was established by Sean Brennan with the intention of producing limited quantities of iconic wines that truly represent the potential of this exceptional wine region.
Peregrine Wines, Queenstown
Located by the rugged mountains and lakes of Queenstown. Peregrine lies under the snow capped mountains of the region with its vineyards in the valleys below, a continental climate giving the area hot and dry summers with cool nights.
Como Villa Estate, Alexandra
Specialising in high quality wines situated only 3kms from Alexandra on Earnscleugh Road. The property has unique historical value having had a vineyard before the turn of the century.
The Shed, Cromwell - Situated just 5 minutes from the bridge on the Tarras-Cromwell Highway “The Shed” sits in a stunning tranquil setting offering a true Central Otago experience for visitors.
Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka
The land upon which Rippon Vineyard stands has been in the Mills family since 1913. Granted the custodianship of this very special piece of land, the primary interest for all at Rippon is to foster wines which are an accurate reflection of the property.