Christchurch Pride, the South Island’s biggest Pride Festival, has become a destination event for North Islanders taking a week off to enjoy some southern hospitality. When you’re not at a Pride event, North Canterbury’s Waipara district provides a plethora of must-visit destinations, producing some of the country’s best wines. Here are express’ top sipping suggestions, tailored to suit even the busiest Pride schedule.
A FREE DAY:
Sort out a sober driver and take a 90-minute journey up to the heart of Waipara, North Canterbury’s stunning wine region, where you will be spoilt for choice of stunning vineyards like the legendary Pegasus Bay Winery, which is a must-visit for riesling fans due to the incredible range and variety that can be enjoyed amongst its epic gardens. (pegasusbay.com)
Having indulged at Pegasus before, we decided to focus on some trendy vineyards that have sommeliers salivating and Black Estate was our first stop. Black Estate is a young progressive rockstar of the vineyard scene, with a friendly team of alternative queer staff that make you feel like you are sipping in San Fernando Valley before heading off to Coachella. The organic wines, which are strictly cultivated to moon cycles, are great conversation sparkers. Don’t miss the Treble Rose, an earthy chilled red that pairs perfectly with their heritage tomatoes and gently seared wild venison tartare! (blackestate.co.nz)
A lot of places give you the chance to eat next to the vines, but Greystone offer a long lunch under them! Book early for a table on the deck with a canopy of grape vines hanging overhead. Chef Cameron Woodhouse offers an ever-changing menu to ensure the freshest local cuisine. Pair it with Greystone’s organic wine matches and expect time to start ticking a little slower. Do not skip the brown butter ice cream with local stone fruit, which is delectably paired with Greystone’s 2019 Riesling. An all-around Instragramable dining experience. (greystonewines.co.nz)
There are some real characters to meet in the North Canterbury wine scene, and nowhere quite sums that up like the family-run vineyard The Boneline. We meet the hilarious Jack, whose family purchased The Boneline site in 1989 and has been growing and making wine there ever since. It’s the most relaxed wine tasting we’ve done, despite the fact we are trying some seriously acclaimed wines. The tasting culminates in Boneline’s pièce de résistance, the award-winning Amphitheatre Cab Franc, which had famed wine critic Bob Campbell raving!
Another aspect that makes The Boneline a destination winery is the walk you can do around the vineyard’s perimeter, which highlights its dramatic undulating landscape and the many ancient fossils that archaeologists have found there. An ideal opportunity to sober up! (theboneline.co.nz)
Our final vineyard of the day, George’s Road, offers the option to pick your own antipasto platter with your tasting, allowing you to select the charcuterie, olives, dips, and crackers that you love and none of the ones you don’t. Enjoy these with the likes of George’s Road’s bright strawberry-coloured dry Rosé and gorgeous cool climate Syrah as you overlook Mount Grey and the Three Deans range. If you just can’t face returning to city life, George’s Road offers a fantastic accommodation in their ‘Wine Pod’ tiny house, complete with its own BBQ and private hot tub underneath the stars. (georgesroadwines.co.nz)
A FREE NIGHT:
If you are looking to impress someone with the ultimate date night, then we have got you covered. Book a night at The Observatory Hotel, express’ favourite place to stay in Christchurch. Perfectly located beyond the gothic-revival walls of Te Matatiki Toi Ora The Arts Centre. Rich woods, deep purples, high ceilings and those beautiful thick stone walls imply elegance, luxury and romance from the minute you enter The Observatory Hotel’s doors. Each of the Observatory’s 33 rooms are uniquely designed and curated with handpicked locally crafted furniture, and if you are travelling in a group, the regal yet contemporary lounge is a great place to mingle over a coffee or cocktail, as well as being a site to behold. (Observatoryhotel.co.nz)
If you are wanting to celebrate an anniversary, thinking of proposing or just looking to impress, this is the place to do it. As well as the Hotel’s exemplary amenities (expect loose leave teas, coffee pods, crisp linen, comfy robes and slippers in your rooms), the location means a romantic itinerary is awaiting you on your doorstep. Once settled
in, a stroll over to Christchurch’s magnificent botanical gardens which combine natives with majestic European trees and flora is a must. Returning to The Arts Centre, Lumière (lumierecinemas.co.nz) – arguably the best arthouse cinema in Aotearoa – will offer a feast for your eyes and mind. After that, it’s time to tempt your pallet, and within The Arts Centre, we just adore The Cellar Door.
The Cellar Door is one of the most fun dining experiences to be found in Christchurch due to its ridiculously well-cultivated wine list and penchant for wine flights. Wine Flights are a tasting of four wines, stacking up to a little over a full glass, which adds an eventful splash of ceremony to the occasion. Before you picture a stuffy atmosphere of sniffing and swilling, cast your eyes over the flight’s pun-filled titles like ‘A Problem Sherry’ed Is A Problem Halved’ and ‘Let’s Get Fizzical’ and leave any pretentiousness at the door. There are 18 flights on the menu, plus usually a flight special from a boutique grower that has The Cellar Door’s staff particularly excited. The food menu has been created to compliment the wine with strong European flavours at its heart. Signature dishes include marinated white anchovies on sourdough, venison leg loin tartare, organic chick liver pâté and a cheese menu that can’t be ignored. (Cellardoor.nz)
Your room at The Observatory Hotel is just a stumbling distance away. We stayed in the stunning skylight-lit Malachite loft room which we highly recommend. If they haven’t fallen head over heels for you a night there, it’s time to move on.
A FREE AFTERNOON:
Tussock Hill Vineyard, located at the tip of the affluent Christchurch suburb, Cashmere, offers a city escape without the road trip. This family-owned boutique organic vineyard offers one of the city’s most beautiful lunch options, perched high in the port hills, overlooking their vines. Their wines can be enjoyed by glass, bottle or flight, and are complemented by a succinct menu of expertly crafted local produce with a farm to table values, put together by new Head Chef Liam Summers (formerly Executive Chef at Miro).
Tussock Hill gained a reputation for forging a culture of artistic freedom in their kitchen when former Head Chef Jackson Mehlhopt won the Acqua Panna Award at Sydney’s Young Chef Academy Competition in October last year. He has since been snapped up by Melbourne’s hungry culinary scene, but his legacy has assured that Tussock Hill sets a high bar as a lunch destination. We recommend a late 3 pm sitting where you can kick back with superbly BBQ’d dry-aged local fish and Tussock’s Pinot Gris Vertical Flight, which takes you through the vintages from 2009, 2012 and 2015, produced by the very vines that are growing before your eyes.