Explore the South: Waipara Valley

59km – around an hour’s drive

The drive from Christchurch to Hanmer Springs will take you through the picturesque Waipara Valley – one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions. There are around 30 wineries in the valley, including Waipara Hills, which you’ll see from SH1. There are a number of winery tour operators that can take you through the Waipara Valley wineries and share their knowledge of the fascinating histories – and the amazing wine – of the region. Cycling enthusiasts will love the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail, which winds its way through many of the region’s world-class vineyards and historic farms. Beginning at Glenmark Reserve, sample the vintages of Ataahua Wines and Sherwood Estate before the trail passes underneath SH1, taking in the vineyards of Greystone, Muddy Water, Dancing Water, Mountford Estate and Black Estate. If walking is more your thing, plan a trip up the Mount Cass Walkway. The walk takes around two to three hours return and has some spectacular views along the way. If you’re passing through on a Saturday morning, stop in at the farmers market on Carters Road (Amberley) and stock up on fresh produce and other goodies. Also in Waipara, you’ll find the Weka Pass Railway, a historic rural railway that uses both vintage steam and diesel-electric trains. Run by volunteer enthusiasts, the railway runs almost 13km across scenic farmland, past a large irrigation reservoir, and up through the Weka Pass. The Waipara Valley is home to Limestone Hills – a winery and truffle plantation owned by Gareth and Camille Renowden. The truffle season runs from midsummer until late winter, so you may be lucky enough to find some being sold at local farmers markets. And if you’re keen to try something fun and just a bit different, Limestone Hills also organises truffle hunts and tours (with their amazing truffle hunter, Rosie the beagle

Stop on the way

  • Little Vintage Espresso in Amberley – a lovely cafe with great coffee and tasty food
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