18. A heli-tour of North Canterbury's wine region
Wine and dine your way through New Zealand with these magnificent locations: here is No. 18 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
Welcome to New Zealand’s Big Sky Country, where the Canterbury Plains segue to the foothills of the Southern Alps before morphing into the craggy, snow-capped peaks making up the mountainous spine of the South Island/Te Waipounamu. Seen from a helicopter, the transition between the three different landscapes is very distinct, and flying from Christchurch/Ōtautahi to North Canterbury’s Waipara Valley wine-growing region, there are also views of the coastal sweep of Pegasus Bay and the inland route of the Waimakariri River.
Between the Vines tours with Garden City Helicopters visit five different wineries in the Waipara Valley, one of New Zealand’s emerging wine-growing areas, especially for cool-climate and aromatic varietals including riesling, pinot gris and gewürztraminer.
Sky-high transport means it’s both spectacular and efficient to get between stops, maximising the time for discovering the vineyards’ different styles, stories and personalities. The tour’s first landing is at Georges Road Wines for some of the country’s best syrah and pinot gris, as well as its popular, summer-friendly rosé.
From there it’s a short flight to Terrace Edge’s family-owned vineyard and olive grove on the banks of the Waipara River. Five wines including its lush Liquid Geography Riesling are included in Terrace Edge’s food- and wine-matching experience.
From there, aged wines and cellar-door-only releases are on show at Greystone Wines, before organic and biodynamic wines get star billing amid Black Estate Wine’s modern architecture. A final stop at award-winning Waipara Hills Wines caps a day gaining a deep understanding of a region producing superb wine.