Central Otago wine and scenic tour


Continuing with my New Zealand posts…
The day after our Milford Sound trip, we had a wine and scenery tour booked with New Zealand Wine Tours. The “Pinot Paparazzi Tour” includes wine tasting and three vineyards, lunch, a visit to an aroma room and many stops to admire the scenery. The wine bottle labels above are the only photos of wine you’ll see in this post, since I drank the wine rather than photographing it 😉 Those bottles are the two we purchased to bring home.

Our first stop was just outside Queenstown, for a look at the view. Jake – our guide and owner of the company – did tell us what we were looking at, but I’m an idiot so I don’t know any more.

I think it’s safe to say the scenery was stunning anyway!
Some photos from our next stop:

I can at least tell you that we took the Crown Range Road, so that’s where all these photos were taken from. I just don’t know what we’re looking at!

Next up was a stop at the Cardrona Hotel, New Zealand’s oldest hotel. Very quaint looking. I also took some photos of the surrounding buildings.

Once we’d explored the hotel, it was back into the van and on our way to the first winery of the day! While we were driving there, Jake asked us all about our wine preferences so that he could choose which vineyards to take us to in the afternoon. There were four of us on our tour, but there can be up to seven.

Jake described Rippon to us as “the vineyard with the best view in Central Otago”. It looks over Lake Wanaka, and the view truly is stunning. Here, I’ll show you:

As you can see, it was a cloudy day. The view is already stunning, so just imagine how much more beautiful it would look with the sun shining! What a place to work!

I think we tried six wines at Rippon, all of which were tasty. I liked the Gewürztraminer best.

Our next stop was lunch, which we had here:


Lunch was a meat/cheese platter, served on a wooden stand that was originally part of a wine barrel. I wish I had taken a photo! (Bad blogger. Bad, bad blogger!). The food was included, drinks were extra. I chose a rosé wine that our tour guide recommended and it was delicious! (8 Ranges Rosé if you’re interested).

Once we’d eaten, we went into the aroma room, which is also at The Nose. All around the room there are little pegs? Pins? (I don’t know!) infused with a different scent – ranging from strawberry to coffee, from apple to violet, from peach to leather. A poster above each of the sniffy things tells you what you’re smelling. We first had to go around the room trying to guess each scent before looking at the post. I managed to identify quite a few of them. The we tried out our aroma identifying skills on two types of wine – The Nose Pinot Gris and The Nose Pinot Noir. Jake told us there were no right or wrong answers – if you think you can smell something, then that’s what you can smell – but he told us the most common answers that tour groups give for each wine. It was a fascinating experience!

Sniffing done, it was time to move on to the afternoon’s wine tasting. The first place that Jake had picked out for us was Aurum Winery. On the way there, Jake explained to us about their Amber Wine, which is incredibly unique! It’s made using traditional techniques. The grapes are fermented in their skins and strained through muslim cloth. It’s almost like a red wine, but not (so hard to explain… it’s not really like a rosé either – as I said, it’s unique). We tried some other wines, and also got to taste their port which was very nice! It was a hard choice between buying the Amber WIne or the port, but the amber won just because it’s so unusual.

Outside the tasting room is a beautiful garden:

As we were leaving Aurum it started to rain, and by the time we reached our final stop – Chard Farm – it was chucking it down! This place was a lot busier, so instead of the people there doing the tasting with us, Jake collected each bottle from them and provided the explanations himself. Again, we tasted some very nice wines and even managed to find some red wines that I like! Jan’s favourite was the last wine we tasted, but I didn’t like that one so we purchased the one you see above. Overall, Chard Farm was where we tasted our favourite wines of the day – I liked all the white wines and 2 out of 3 red wines (and I don’t usually drink red wine!).

This was another vineyard with a gorgeous view, but since it was raining heavily I didn’t go and seek it out. Here’s a photo from just outside the tasting building:


You can see how green it is, at least.

If you happen to find yourself in the Central Otago region of New Zealand and you like wine, I can highly recommend New Zealand Wine Tours! Jake is an excellent guide (and I’m sure his other guide is great as well!), very knowledgeable, the aroma room is unusual and interesting, and having the afternoon vineyards selected specifically to meet your tastes is a really nice touch. This wine and scenery tour is just one of the available options – there are also ones that focus more on the wine. Basically, if you’re going to do a wine tour in Central Otago, go with New Zealand Wine Tours.

10 thoughts on “Central Otago wine and scenic tour

  1. Looks fantastic. I was interested to see the name of the hotel. There is a very small place in Scotland called Cardrona. I wonder if there is a connection?

  2. OOoh, the views are gorgeous!!! I like that big rock! I loved hearing about the Nose and all the smells and the reasoning behind it. I’m not keen on wine but I’d be intrigued to do this after reading this. xx

    1. It was really interesting! I hate it when people tell you what they think you’re supposed to smell/taste in a wine and refuse to accept any other answer! Jake was really nice and pretty much said “I can see where you’d get that” to all our ideas.

  3. If I thought I was jealous after your first tour post, I probably should’ve skipped this one. That looks like the dream, right there. Now will you be saving the bottles for a special occasion? 🙂

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