Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Wine Region of New Zealand - A Baby Boomer Dream Trip to Canterbury

This week we have a very special guest post about New Zealand's Canterbury wine region, including information on the wineries you may wish to visit, as well as popular restaurants in the city of Christchurch.  The post was written especially for this blog by experienced kiwi tour guides at MoaTrek, a company which operates small group tours in New Zealand. 

The country of New Zealand is on the bucket list for many American retirees who have always dreamed of traveling south of the equator.  The New Zealand authors who wrote this post even provided several photos of tourists enjoying the food and wine in their unique part of the world, including the top photo with Lake Wanaka in the background.  

Since this blog has never had an article about this region, we are sure our readers will enjoy the article below.  Perhaps it will spur a few of you to explore New Zealand personally! Below is their post:


MoaTrek Wine Bucket List – Canterbury
If you love food, wine and unique travel experiences, New Zealand is probably already on your bucket list. You can get many big-name brands of New Zealand wine at your local restaurant or supermarket in a number of countries, but the most memorable experiences are created by visiting the remote but accessible corners of New Zealand’s wine regions, where you personally meet winemakers, drink the world's best wine, and eat meals to match. 
This New Zealand wineries guide for travelers has been written by experienced tour guides at MoaTrek, which has been running small group tours around New Zealand since the 1970s and, over that time, figured out where the best wines and wineries are. This article is a guide for overseas travelers planning a trip to New Zealand’s Canterbury wine regions, suggests the best wineries to visit, and recommends the best wines to try on your trip.

New Zealand is one of a group of ‘new world’ wine growing countries changing the global wine landscape - and while our viticulture history doesn’t go back as far as the traditional wine growing areas of Europe and the Middle East, it hasn’t taken long for New Zealand wines to gain a fantastic international reputation. As the youngest country on earth, our wine making history is relatively short; the first grapes were introduced by missionary Samuel Marsden in 1819, who remarked “New Zealand promises to be very favourable to the vine”.
The first larger scale wineries were established by Croatian immigrants around Auckland at the end of the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that the industry really started to develop. 
With warm summers, cold winters and good soil, Canterbury has a reputation for excellent and elegant Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and aromatic wines, renowned for their rich flavour.  The Canterbury GI is very large, covering a 44,500 square kilometre (17,200 sq mi) region of New Zealand. (GI stands for the "Geographical Indications - Wine and Spirits - Registration Act" and
provides an international safeguard for New Zealand's geographic names in the wine sectors).
However, almost all of the region's vineyards are concentrated in a relatively small area around the city of Christchurch, prompting the establishment of two sub GIs within it, North Canterbury and the Waipara Valley. These are not the only wine producing areas you may wish to visit, with excellent wineries near Cheviot, Hanmer Springs and on the road to Akaroa producing well-regarded Pinot Noir; but the area around Christchurch is the area we will focus on in this article. 
The North Canterbury Wine Region is the top half of the larger Canterbury GI north of the Rakaia River in a small cluster of vineyards concentrated in 168 hectares (420 acres). The area plants Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay varieties.  Notable producers include French Peak (formerly French Farm), Melton Estate and Lone Goat, which is notable for producing well-reviewed Riesling from the vineyards originally owned by Giesen Estate and New Zealand's only Ehrenfelser wine. 
The main wine growing area of Canterbury is the Waipara Valley, north of Christchurch, and one of New Zealand’s newer wine regions, which began production in the late 1970s with Pegasus Bay.   The valley floor provides a warm micro-climate ideal for viticulture, with a rain shadow from the Southern Alps, low coastal limestone ridges and moderate, cool ocean winds to the east. 
Master of Wine Liam Stevenson has described Waipara as possibly the ‘most exciting place to grow Pinot Noir’, and it makes up the bulk of Canterbury's plantings (although there are also white wine varietals grown there).

Award winners from this region include Greystone Wines Pinot Noir, which has won the Decanter International Trophy and the Air New Zealand Trophy, and Black Estate, awarded the Trophy for Best Pinot Noir at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in 2010. 

Down-to-earth, warm and embracing, New Zealanders are known for their friendly hospitality... the perfect way to sample the top drops while relaxing in beautiful sunny settings and enjoying gourmet spreads.

How to Get to the Canterbury Wine Region of New Zealand

As the gateway to the South Island, many travelers will spend a night or two in Christchurch and take the opportunity to visit surrounding areas. Popular day tour destinations are Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura and Akaroa, which all have wineries on route to visit. You can drive yourself or take day tours from Christchurch. 

For real wine connoisseurs the Waipara Valley is on the way to both Kaikoura and Hanmer Springs. For those traveling South after crossing the Cook Strait by ferry, a stop-over in Kaikoura will be the perfect place to stay before visiting the Waipara Valley on the way South the following day. 

Canterbury wineries to visit:    
Pegasus Bay Winery, north of Christchurch
Terrace Edge Vineyard and Olive Grove in Waipara
Waiau River Estate in Hanmer Springs 

One Canterbury wine you have to try:
Mount Brown Estates North Canterbury Pinot Gris 2017

What to Eat in New Zealand

Being an island nation, New Zealand is big on fish and seafood. Our coastline is teeming with fish; local favourites include snapper, hapuka and the delicately-flavoured John Dory – best served lightly crumbed with lemon. One could say that fish and chips on the beach is a kiwi weekend institution! 

Scallops and mussels are restaurant staples, and delicious Bluff Oysters come into season during the New Zealand autumn. The rich waters off Kaikoura – an hour north of Christchurch – are famous for crayfish. In the Maori language, ‘kai’ means food and ‘koura’ means crayfish - and unsurprisingly, the local bounty you’ll find here is some of the best available in the world. (See the attached photo of koura, or crayfish.) One of the best ways to enjoy this delicacy is from one of the local ‘crayfish caravans’. These caravans are dotted along the coastline, selling freshly caught crayfish prepared with garlic butter and lemon. Devouring one of these beauties while sitting on the rocks looking out to sea has got to be one of the most quintessentially kiwi dining experiences you can have and certainly tops off a day of marine life encounters in this famous town.

Our Favourite Restaurants in Christchurch
Smack bang in the middle of the breadbasket of the nation and as the largest city in the South Island, Christchurch has always punched above its weight in the restaurant game. A lot of our guests finish their New Zealand trip in Christchurch, so a celebration dinner is called for!

Best overall - Cook'n with Gas - One of the most talked about restaurants in Christchurch. This award-winning bistro serves excellent modern New Zealand cuisine in a chilled out 1860s villa.

Best value - Shirley's Kitchen - Popular with university students, this Malaysian spot offers fantastic and affordable food. Try the Kampua, a mouthwatering dish that features noodles, BBQ pork and crispy onions.

Best takeaway - Burgerfuel - This iconic burger joint has locations all over New Zealand and the burgers are top quality - made with fresh, local ingredients such as 100% pure New Zealand grass fed beef and batch brewed tomato relish.

New Zealand has many other famous wine regions you may be interested in visiting like the Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Central Otago. Check them all out here: 

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THANK YOU to the kiwi tour guides from MoaTrek for this fun information about what to eat and drink during a tour of the Canterbury wine region in New Zealand.  I hope some of my Baby Boomer readers decide to plan an adventure there.

For more information, you may also be interested in "The Rough Guide to New Zealand."

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Photo credits:  New Zealand kiwi tour guides from MoaTrek 

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