The roadtrip series: how to sip your way around lush Lower South New Zealand
When it comes to our mates next door in New Zealand, we have a lot to be envious about. The ridiculously stunning vistas, the Prime Minister and the mouth-watering food come to mind, but the wine scene alone is enough to incite some serious wanderlust. If you take your sips seriously, Lower South New Zealand is a must-do destination – and it happens to be even closer than you might think. A short three-and-a-half hour direct flight from Brisbane will land you right in the heart of NZ’s wine country – so why not take advantage of it? We’ve teamed up with Lower South New Zealand to show you how to explore the land sip by sip – breathtaking scenery included.
If you’re hanging out to create your own winery trail, Central Otago is the place to go! This vino hotspot is loaded with amazing spots to try – one need only follow the Gibbston Highway to discover a treasure trove of local makers. Standouts include Mt Difficulty Wines, whose location yields a unique microclimate resulting in truly delicious drops. Be sure to also make time for Chard Farm’s truly unbelievable riverside vineyard, wine tasting in New Zealand’s largest wine cave at Gibbston Valley, and wander through the Wooing Tree Vineyard before sampling its delicious yield. This is just the tip of the iceberg – Central Otago is bona-fide wine country, so set aside a fair chunk of time if viticulture is your thing.
Before you launch into the sprawling landscapes of Lower South New Zealand, you can start a little closer to town in your landing place of Dunedin at URBN VINO. Dedicated winemaker Brendan Seal helms this tiny hole-in-the-wall city winery, bringing his years of experience to the table to craft quality wines from Central Otago vineyards. Next stop is the nearby Emerson’s, a rad brewery that’s been pumping out pilsners and pale ales since 1992 – sample from the core range of six brews or lash out and try a seasonal release. You can even treat yourself to a brewery tour to get more of an inside look at the process, with spots available daily.
Travelling further south you will find Clutha, an area people might not typically associate with cracking libations – but there is a hidden gem here well worth seeking out. Perched on the shore of the idyllic Kaka Point you will find the Catlins Brewery, a sweet local spot brewing up damn fine drops. The brewery’s core range of beers and ciders includes a Manuka-smoked ale, a black stout and even a honey scrumpy, with each selection crafted from all-natural New Zealand ingredients. The Catlins Brewery cellar door is open for tours by appointment – head to the website to inquire.
There may not be actual wineries or breweries in Southland, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying some top-notch sips and suds – not to mention the truly awesome natural landscape more than makes up for it. If you’re in the district and feeing thirsty, The Explorer Bar is a great excuse to head west – get cosy in the lounge and sample some of the finest wines New Zealand has to offer while you watch the sun set over Lake Te Anau. Fanging for a frothy? Speight’s Ale House can satiate your thirst – its award-winning traditional ales and beers are made from the purest water and fresh Southern ingredients. Bottoms up!
Image: Steve Collis
Thirsty patrons have some truly choice options in Waitiki – whether you’re more hoppy or grape-inclined, here are the spots to pop on your to-do list. If vino is your thing, make tracks to the River-T Estate Winery – this beautiful vineyard and cellar door boast the largest selection of Waitaki Valley wines in New Zealand (not to mention a jaw-dropping view). Just next door you can sample the delights of the Pasquale Kurow Winery, another perfect spot for food and wine lovers with a penchant for epic scenery. More into beer? Scotts Brewing Co. is your crafty haven – what could top sipping on perfectly brewed drops while munching on hot pizza and gazing out over Oamaru’s Harbour?
Feeling inspired to head on your own international wine trail? Stop dreaming and start booking – you can fly Virgin direct from Brisbane to Dunedin from as low as $461 return*! To find out more about these killer deals, visit the Lower South New Zealand website.