adventure capital of the world. Queenstown has safe, breath-taking
activities. Bungy Jump from the world's first commercial bungy
site, swoop and soar in a whitewater raft or surf, jet boat
down canyons, tandem hanglide or parapente. Long walks, four
wheel drive treks, or lunch on a steamboat. Visit the historic
goldmining settlement of Arrowtown, or discover Glenorchy, gateway
to Paradise Valley and the famous Routeburn walking track.
GUIDE - QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND
on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, overlooked by the majestic
Southern Alps, the town was named because "...it
was fit for Queen Victoria." Queenstown is today
recognised internationally as New Zealand's premier
visitor destination. Queenstown has more than just breathtaking
scenery and a diverse range of attractions, it's the
people visitors find enchanting. In fact in 1998, Queenstown
was again voted Friendliest Foreign City in a poll of
37,000 readers of Conde Nast Traveler, a top US Travel
Publication. Queenstown first won the award in 1996.
Central Otago Wine Region
Ringed by mountains interlaced with lakes and deep river
gorges Central Otago is one of New Zealand’s most
spectacular settings for vineyards. This unique terroir
is also world renowned for producing premium quality
For many it was wine made in the Gibbston Valley that
put Central Otago wines on the map. Alan Brady planted
some of the first grape vines in the region in the Gibbston
Valley in 1981 and 1982. (Earlier plantings had been
made by Ann Pinkney near Arrowtown five years earlier).
The first commercial vintage of Gibbston Valley Wine
was bottled in 1987, and since then the winery has consistently
produced award-winning wines including several vintages
of Reserve Pinot Noir which have taken international
medals and trophies. Gibbston Valley Winery, with its
associated restaurant and retail shop, is one of New
Zealand’s most visited wineries, being located
close to Queenstown.
Rob and Greg Hay planted vines at Chard Farm a few years
later, and wines produced there have also been consistently
More recently Greg Hay moved into his own ventures,
establishing Peregrine Winery and Wentworth Estate;
the vineyards spreading along the Gibbston Flats (as
well as in other parts of the region). Other vineyards
on the flats include Waitiri Creek, Nevis Bluff, and
tucked away around the back road, Sam Neill’s
Two Paddocks, Valli Vineyards, Mount Edward (Alan Brady’s
new venture), Sleeping Dogs. Closer to Queenstown, around
Lake Hayes, are located the Amisfield Winery, and Taramea
Wines near Arrowtown.
The Gibbston Valley subregion tends to be cooler and
wetter than other subregions in Central Otago, vines
ripen later and harvest dates can be a month later at
Gibbston than at Bannockburn. Slow ripening of the vines
can enhance the build-up of colour and flavour, but
for insurance against a poor vintage, some of the vineyards
in the subregion are selecting other sites in the Cromwell
Basin or around Alexandra to provide some of the grapes
for blending with their fruit.
parts of the land where grapes are grown lie mainly
within the semi-arid inland basins of the region and
typically experience hot summers, cold winters and long
dry autumns. These inland basins are part of a succession
of mountains and valley floors, of old river terraces,
scarps and fans. Seven terrace levels with associated
scarps and fans can be seen increasing in age from the
lowest on the flood plain to the highest at the foot
of the mountains. Those qualities of landscape, soil,
climate and aspect combine to form a unique Central
topoclimate. Its horticulture potential has been proved
over the last century and now a new generation of viticulture
activity is extending this.
Central Otago has a distinctive semi-continental climate,
found nowhere else in New Zealand. It is one of the
hottest, coldest and driest regions in New Zealand.
The highest recorded maximum temperature is 38.7 degrees
Celsius and the lowest –21.6 degrees, however
winter minima seldom exceed –10 degrees. Frost
is possible on any day of the year with late November
being a critical time. The diurnal temperature range
is 11 to 15 degrees in most of the wine growing valleys
of the Clutha and Kawarau rivers.
Alexandra has recorded the lowest annual and twelve
consecutive month rainfalls of 211mm and 167 mm respectively
in New Zealand. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly during
the year with a winter minimum and a summer maximum.
High evapotranspiration largely negates this and severe
soil moisture deficits develop during the October to
April growing season. Humidity is low being about 65%
in the morning falling to 30% in the afternoon.
Wind in the valley floors is strongly influenced by
the surrounding mountains and tends to be northeast
or southwest. Winters are calm and spring and early
summer are windy. The most damaging is the Fohn wind
which although infrequent can be very strong and destructive.
The other damaging but infrequent wind is a downhill
or katabatic wind which can develop in spring when skies
are clear and mountains have a heavy snow cover. This
is usually very cold and impossible to moderate by frost
Otago soils are moderately old (often windblown loess)
formed over successive ice ages as the glaciers ground
schist rocks to a fine flour. Layers of loess at various
depths are interspersed with river gravels with the
addition of sandier soils formed by water erosion. Soils
are therefore free draining even when heavy in texture.
The low rainfall keeps leaching effects low so there
is a good level of minerality present but low levels
of organic matter. The result is a soil low in vigour
but high in mineral richness with the ability to use
irrigation to keep vines at the desired degree of controlled
stress so as to provide optimum fruit quality. All of
these attributes have combined to result in Central
Otago standing on the world stage as a unique winegrowing
terroir, from which premium quality boutique wines are
Gibbston is a narrow valley enclosed by mountains where
about 250 hectares of vines are planted on sloping,
north facing land on the south bank of the Kawarau River.
Gibbston is the coolest and highest of the sub-regions
with vineyards between 320 and 420 metres altitude.
Wanaka, the smallest of the sub-regions has vineyards
planted between the shores of Lake Wanaka and the town
of Luggate to the east. At 290 to 320 metres above sea
level the vineyards have a similar but slightly warmer
climate than those at Gibbston.
The Cromwell Basin
The Cromwell Basin contains the largest concentration
of vines in an area bounded by the Kawarau River, Lake
Dunstan and the Pisa mountain range. It is a warm, early
ripening district dominated by semi arid, flat to undulating
high terraces and moraines and gently sloping fans.
on the southern banks of the Kawarau near Cromwell is
a very warm, dry district where grapes ripen early on
sandy, silty loam soils. The altitude here ranges from
220 to 370 metres in an area known by miners as “the
Heart of the Desert”.
lying east of the Clutha river and Lake Dunstan has
both intermediate (220 metres) and higher terraces (330
to 350) planted in grapes. This warm area has semi arid,
variable depth, free draining soils at the lower levels
with shallower soils higher up.
The Alexandra Basin
Framed by the Clutha and Manuherikia rivers regularly
records New Zealand’s hottest summer temperatures.
Spectacular schist outcrops dominate the arid landscape
and a wide diurnal shift moderates the high temperatures.
TO QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND