Just half an hour’s drive from Queenstown lies Gibbston Valley, a lush, fertile valley surrounded by mountains. Here, you’ll find a collection of wineries specialising in the famous Central Otago pinot noir.
Gibbston Valley makes a wonderful day trip from Queenstown, with many wineries offering cellar doors and tasting rooms. The journey is beautiful in itself, with towering mountains in the background and rolling countryside ahead.
A handful of winery restaurants are also open for gourmet or casual meals, so time your trip to coincide with a lunchtime visit. Here's what you know to plan your trip.
Gibbston Valley is an easy drive from Queenstown and en route to Wanaka, so it’s a very accessible place to visit if you have a car. However, if you’re planning on trying out the local wines (most people’s reason for heading to Gibbston Valley), it’s worth looking at alternative transport.
A popular choice is a wine tour from Queenstown, where you’ll visit 3-4 different wineries, including stopping at one for lunch. Transport is usually in a comfortable mini-bus and will often include tours of the wineries.
Another good option is cycling to Gibbston Valley from Arrowtown, stopping at wineries as you go. You can rent bikes independently; otherwise, organised bike tours include bike rental, wine tastings, and transport back. If you aren’t after anything too energetic, consider e-bikes – you’ll thank yourself after a few glasses of wine.
Gibbston Valley wineries are famous for Central Otago pinot noir, a silky burgundy-style wine distinctive to this area of New Zealand. Many of the brands best known for pinot noir are in the regions of Gibbston Valley, Bendigo, and Bannockburn, so this is the perfect place to try this iconic wine yourself.
In addition to pinot noir, Gibbstown Valley is also known for its aromatic whites, including some Rieslings and Pinot Gris, a small amount of Chardonnay, and some excellent Rose. Nowadays, you can also find some local craft beers in the region.
Situated just inside the valley, Gibbston Valley is extremely popular with visitors. It’s a large winery with an on-site restaurant and offers tours, a cellar door, and a cheesery. Pinot noir, Riesling, and Pinot Gris are usually available for tasting.
Gibbston Valley also has a bike centre where you can hire bikes to explore further. Villa accommodation is also available on-site.
Chard Farm is the first vineyard you see when you enter Gibbston Valley, and the way up can seem a bit treacherous. Established in 1986, you must book your visit to Chard Farm in advance, but it’s well worth the effort.
Relax on the lovely grounds with even better views as you try their excellent pinot noir, Chardonnay, Maria Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris.
Peregrine Wines is a premium winery and event space with a cellar door. However, if you aren’t lucky enough to visit for a function, you can still taste their artisan Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and bubbly at the cellar door. Just be sure to book in advance.
You can taste several of the best Rockburn wines at a small tasting shed next to Gibbston Tavern. Try several vintages of their renowned pinot noir along with a couple of whites. The Stolen Kiss rose is a delicious and welcome surprise.
With a restaurant and cellar door, Kinross is an excellent choice to spend a couple of hours in Gibbston Valley. Try a wine from Kinross, Hawke’s Head, and Valli Wineries. If you’re tempted to stay longer, there are charming vineyard cottages for overnight visitors on-site.
Established in 1996, Brennan Wines has a tasting room converted from an old villa shed that overlooks a large garden and Nevis Bluff. Spend your visit tasting pinot noir, Riesling, tempranillo, Chardonnay, and Method Traditionale with a picnic on the grounds – an enchanting experience.
If you’re more of a beer drinker, there are still a couple of options for you in Gibbston Valley:
Located in the old church, you can stop for lunch and taste Cargo beers and four wine labels: Bald Hills, Quartz Reef, Prophet’s Rock, and Domani Rewa. If you want to try a selection, you can order tasting boards of beer and wine.
Pizzas and platters are available inside the old church. Relax outside in the beer garden, where you will find a large grassy area and some games for the young or young at heart.
A historic pub with good beer and wine and a range of typical pub food, including woodfire pizza and burgers. You can sit outside and enjoy the sun. There are a few games to keep the kids occupied.
If you’re after a relaxing getaway outside central Queenstown, Gibbston Valley is a beautiful place to spend a few days. Several wineries have boutique accommodation, usually well-appointed lodges or vineyard cottages.
Kinross Vineyard Cottages for self-contained cottages with views and complimentary wine tastings.
Gibbston Valley Lodge offers luxury villas in the vines and includes breakfast and wine tastings. There is also a spa on-site.
Mt Rosa lodge for luxury, boutique bed and breakfast, set on 6 acres of land which produces its own Pinot Noir. Perfect for relaxing!
Gibbston House, a comfortable boutique bed and breakfast near Brennan Wines. It makes an excellent base for exploring the area.
Aside from wine, there are a few other activities to enjoy while you’re in Gibbston Valley. If you’re after an adrenalin rush, this is also the site of the Nevis Playground, where you can experience New Zealand’s highest bungy, an epic, gravity-defying swing, or get shot from a human catapult. Just keep in mind that the transport is a 4WD bus from central Queenstown.
You can also go canyoning, cycling, hiking through the beautiful countryside, or try your luck panning for gold.
From Gibbstown Valley, continue on the historic town of Cromwell, set on the scenic Lake Dunstan. The old historical precinct is well worth exploring and there are many more wineries and excellent restaurants in the area.