Day 38 Gibbston Valley
Another glorious day on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. I wake up after only a few hours’ sleep, having to leave the freedom camp at 1am, as the little party a few people were having was getting out of hand. Anyway, I leave early as I have to get back into to Queenstown to catch my taxi out to Arrowtown. Today I’m doing a cycling the Gibbston Valley wineries.
I head into Around the Basin bike tours and check-in, these guys do several different guided tours in the Queenstown region or you can hire bikes and get transport to and from any of their rides, as I have my own bike I’m just getting the transport to Arrowtown and then back at the ended of the day from the end of the trail.
After a short 20min ride from their shop in Queenstown we arrive at Arrowtown and our drivers give us a short briefing and maps before sending us on our way. A couple of us decide to have a more relax look around Arrowtown main street compared to the Harley invasion yesterday. The narrow main street still has the historic buildings from the gold rush, now used as shops and restaurants, catering for the large number of tourists and the ever-increasing number of locals. After a quick coffee, we were on or way again down the cold gravel track, hoping the sun is going to come up over the hills and out of the clouds to warm us up.
To start off, we have to cycle 15km to get to the first vineyard, along pretty easy going gravel path and following the Arrow river. After crossing the river a few times on some swing bridges, we pop out at a bit of farm land and the sun comes out to greet us, defrosting as we carry on down, we make it to the Kawarau River. We cross over on the famous Kawarau Bungy Bridge. This is where it all started from 27 years ago, the world first AJ Hackett bungy. The bridge 43m above the river, gets hundreds if not thousands of people a year, throwing themselves off a perfectly fine platform, close or into the water if you perfer, attached to a bit of elastic tied around your legs, for an adrenaline rush. Well I had the rest of the day to look forward to so I didn’t feel like dying just yet and just watched as a few crazy people took the plunge before I carried on my way, I had wine to try.
First stop was to Gibbston Valley Cheese, right next door to the winery. I’ve been to the Winery a couple of times before so I skip the tasting there and try out a few Cheeses. Really nice cheeses, I go for a Sheep’s cheese in the end, quite a different taste and so much nicer than the goat and cow’s cheeses. After buying a few items, I was on my bike again.
Another few kilometres down the track is Peregrine. I’ve had their wines before and take a liking to a couple. I head in for a complimentary tasting. Trying 4 of their whites, a rose and two reds. My Favourite been the Saddleback 2016 Pinot Gris and their 2014 Pinot Noir. The Valley is known for its award-winning Pinot Noir, with 70% of the grapes grown here are of this variety. The other percentage is made up from Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Next up is Kinross, a nice little place with Accommodation, Café and tastings for 5 of the local wines. I head in and have a bite to eat, I was going to do a tasting after lunch but a bus load of tourist arrived, so after finishing my nice lunch I carried on to the next winery. This time it’s Waitiri, A beautifully restored 1893 church, with indoor and outdoor seating to sample their food with Beer and wine tastings inside. $10 for 5 tastings the most expensive of the day but they have some really nice wines, with their 2014 Chardonnay been my favourite.
Around the corner and up the hill, my legs really feeling this after my hike a couple of days ago, I reach Mt Rosa, really friendly and welcoming owners with their dog Baz. This place with was the best of the day with most of their wines very different but really nice. Trying 7 wines including a mulled wine. There 2010 Pinot Gris and 2014 Pinot Noir were nice with long after tastes, but their Mulled wine syrup mixed with their Rose’ was so good with its warm cinnamon and spice flavours, just had to buy some.
Across the road is my last winery for the day, as its getting close to pick time. Brennan wines is another small vineyard but making a good name for itself with its great wine selection. From Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Chardonnay to name a few with a selection of different years Pinot Noir. After buying a couple more bottles my bag is now full and quite a few kilograms heavier, time to head to the pickup point at Gibbston Tavern before the effects of all the wine and the sun catch up on me.
The van arrives and we load up the bikes before heading back into Queenstown. Time to find some dinner so after riding around town for a while I finally get some takeaways and go sit on the shores of Lake Wakatipu to enjoy it. After a few hours of wandering around town I head back to the van and look for a campsite for the night, I end up driving to just outside Cromwell where I’ll be getting a bit of my need for speed tomorrow. Another great sunset over Lake Dunstan to end the day.