Our time in Queenstown is quickly turning into a plethora of food and wine to send John and Jennie out on a high note back home. Today’s adventure fit the bill as we were scheduled for a 9am-430pm self-guided wine tour through the surrounding Central Otago Wine Valley.
We met the tour operator just before 9 am and boarded a bus for 20 minutes to the start of the trail. After a brief safety demonstration and an introduction to our bikes (each was named, I had Hana), we decided to delay the start for coffee and breakfast. It was 38 degrees out when we started so we were hoping that our first stop would not only provide some well-needed caffeine to 1/2 of our group but also warm everyone up.
After this brief detour, we began the tour and found that the cold weather had not subsided. It must have been about 20 minutes or so into shadows and cold weather before we saw our first glimpse of sun and my hands were frozen- I took a layer off to use as make-shift gloves for the next hour of our ride. We continued to make our way down the trail to the first real stop- the bridge where bungee jumping started.
We all stopped to watch 4-5 people jump off of this bridge and get very close to getting dunked head first into the water. It was interesting to see each one get slowly pushed to the edge before they had to jump- the guides didn’t push them over but certainly came very close to it. I think there was near unanimous agreement that no one in our group was interested in this activity.
We now were finally in the location of the nearby wineries and began the trip to the first of our five stops:
- Chard Farm- This was one of the highest rated options and the only real issue here was the 2km hike to get off of the road/main trail to the tasting room. Thankfully we were greeted with delicious wine and a free tasting in exchange for a donation to their charitable causes
- Gibbston Valley- Probably the biggest winery in the area. We stopped for a free cheese tasting as well as a vineyard tour/tasting. They had a really cool man-made cave to store all of the barrels of wine that they make as well as a locked up storage area of every bottle of wine they’ve ever made
- Kinross- This was a conglomerate of operations but had a really nice area to sit outside. We had a nice bottle of rose as well as some snacks for a very late lunch
- Cargo Brewery- this brewery/vineyard was located in an old church building. We enjoyed a combination of beer and wine flights as well as a gorgeous backdrop of the mountains
- Mt. Rosa- The furthest away from the starting point, they had the best “host” of the day. Trish was full of humor and wit as she led us through a speed-tasting as we arrived very late and had to get out of there in 30 minutes. We ended up buying a bottle from this vineyard for our final night
We made our way back into town and were still pretty hungry after the tiring day, another bike ride of nearly 18 miles. We stopped at the World Bar for another round of drinks and apps before picking up some Indian food and returning to our favorite bar of the trip which we had found yesterday- the docked boat bar that is BYOF (bring your own food). We took in the evening sights before returning to the house and crashing on the couch with some Netflix.
Tomorrow we’re going to go for round 2’s attempt at visiting Milford Sound – should be able to fly tomorrow in the weather but time will tell for our final full day in New Zealand.