The Waipara Valley is becoming one of New Zealand’s leading wine and food regions located just off the main road south between Marlborough (New Zealand’s
biggest wine producing region) and Christchurch (the South Island’s main city). Let us introduce you to a foodie paradise that remains relatively undiscovered, yet have plenty to keep you happy.
Greystone & Muddy Water
General Manager of Greystone & Muddy Water Wines, Nik Mavromatis, is enthusiastic about the geology of the region and believes grapes grown here can produce some of the best wines in the world.
Belinda Gould worked as a winemaker before setting up Brew Moon craft brewery in 2002. Belinda and her son, brewer Toby McCauley, produce full-flavoured delicious brews including Hop Over Vine, a combination of Riesling and paleale; Blood Moon, inspired by a lunar eclipse; and Olé Molé, with a spicy Mexican flair.
With panoramic views westward over the valley, Black Estate winery, tasting room and restaurant are housed in a distinctive contemporary black ‘shed’. The winery produces pinot noir, cabernet franc and chenin blanc grapes, and has been especially recognised for its chardonnay. Owners Penny Naish and Nicholas Brown produce entirely organic wines.
Food Farm tours
Energetic farmers and winemakers, Angela Clifford and her South Australian husband Nick Gill, share a passion for organic farming and permaculture. Their property, known as The Food Farm, includes chickens, ducks, pigs and a milking cow, as well as abundant fruit and vegetable crops – the food forest. Food Farm Tours include some wild food collecting, optional truffle hunting, lunch at a winery restaurant and a chance to get beyond the cellar doors of the region.
Wild Food Challenge
The Local Wild Food Challenge takes place in late summer (held next on February 11, 2017). This big day out attracts a bunch of top chefs from around the country.
Limestone Hills truffles
Meet Rosie, the truffle hound beagle, whose super-sensitive nose can sniff out a prize delicacy buried in the earth. Limestone Hills truffle farmer Gareth Renowden and wife Camille have planted oaks and hazelnuts inoculated with truffle spores. Visitors can go truffle hunting by arrangement.
Visit a local food festival
The Waipara Valley Wine & Food Festival is held in March at the Glenmark Domain, attracting thousands of visitors keen to sample some of the region’s finest produce, cooking and wine. The Canterbury Truffle Festival takes place from late July to mid-August and features truffle tastings at farmers’ markets in Christchurch, Lyttelton and Amberley, together with cooking classes, truffle hunts and lunches at selected winery restaurants.
Get active in the Waipara valley
To work up a healthy appetite, you can go biking along the Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail, which will take you past vineyards and winery restaurants. If you are a fan of steam trains, look out for special excursions on the Weka Pass Railway.