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House of Travel
There are many different types of tour you can experience in a diverse and tourist-friendly nation such as New Zealand. You could delve into the national forests to spot a colourful range of local wildlife, or dive - though this time literally - out of a plane or off a boat in search of adventure and thrills.
On your next trip to Aotearoa, however, make sure you leave time to explore the range of world-class wineries located in stunning Central Otago. Its crisp, brown hills, sparkling lakes and wide range of luscious orchards and vineyards make a perfect backdrop to a wine tour.
Though this region only produces around 2.4 per cent of the country's total wine tonnage, and its Pinot Noir - the majority grape - is some of the country's best.
Here is an itinerary for you to try.
Start just outside of Wanaka's west end with a quick jaunt to Rippon Vineyard. This fantastic place is nestled at the base of the mighty Southern Alps, between the foothills and dazzling Lake Wanaka. The wines here gain consistently high marks for excellence.
Lazy Dog Vineyard and Edible Garden
Progress south for 30 minutes along State Highway 6 from Rippon and you'll be at the gorgeous setting of the Lazy Dog. This family-run bistro has its own range of wines, in addition to offering tasting sessions for a number of other local brands, such as Two Degrees and Locharburn. The food here is also divine, and you can take many of their chutneys, jams, sauces and more home with you, all sourced from the Lazy Dog's own gardens.
Continue south to the quaint township of Cromwell and you'll find Aurum Wines on the outskirts. This great brand was first begun back in 1997 with an environmentally friendly business plan in mind. Now it's a great spot to sit in the vibrant, green garden (surrounded by daffodils and tulips in spring), to taste your fancy from the range of wines present. Make sure not to leave without trying the Port Molyneux dessert wine, which has a gorgeous peach flavour.
Take the opportunity to explore Cromwell and surrounds by adding Akarua Vineyard to your road trip to-do list. This pretty area is located on the other side of town, just off the road to Bannockburn. Akarua actually has three different sites, but Cairnmuir Road is the original, and an awesome spot to stop and taste the produce. Now under its second generation of family ownership, this vineyard makes award-winning vintages such as Akarua Vintage Brut 2010 ('Champion Sparkling Wine Trophy', Romeo Bragato Wine Awards 2015) and Akarua Pinot Noir 2013 (Gold medal, same ceremony).
Gibbston Valley Winery
Leave the open valleys of Cromwell and Wanaka and meander through the dramatic Kawarau Gorge to find Gibbston Valley Winery, about half an hour west of Cromwell. You can't miss this charming building with its inviting, floral car park area and bright red roof. There is a restaurant and shop here, both of which provide a very high class experience, though the wines are a must-taste as well. Vines were first planted here back in the 1980s, and to this day it is one of the leading growers in the area. Don't leave without trying the cheese, too, which would go excellently with a glass of white.
From here, Queenstown is only around 25 minutes further along the road, so stop by there for a succulent dinner to cap your once-in-a-lifetime wine Central Otago wine experience.
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