A wine tour in Queenstown is a great way to experience the region’s wine culture, sample some amazing wines, and take in the stunning scenery. Central Otago has some of the best wineries in New Zealand and is one of the country’s most renowned wine regions. Its cool climate is ideal for growing grapes. The region is particularly known for high-quality Pinot Noir, as well as other varieties such as Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Gris.
A wine tour in Queenstown led by an experienced guide can provide valuable insights into the local wine industry. But you will also learn about the region’s history, culture, and geography. Besides that you can see how the different grape varieties grow in the area, learn about the winemaking process and how to properly taste and evaluate wine. Booking a guided wine tour in Queenstown including wine tastings is a must do, and in this complete guide you’ll find out about the best Queenstown winery tours!
Why should you take a wine tour in Queenstown?
Queenstown is renowned for its beautiful natural scenery, and a wine tour will allow you to explore one of New Zealand’s premier wine regions while you take in the breathtaking views and sample world-class wines. A perfect Queenstown tour for wine and nature lovers!
What time of year is best for wine tours in Queenstown?
The best time of the year for wine tours in Queenstown is typically during the spring, summer and autumn months, which run from October to May. During this time, the weather is warmer and drier. This makes it more comfortable to explore the vineyards and enjoy outdoor tastings.
The grape harvest usually takes place from late February to early April. So visiting during this time can be particularly exciting. This is because you may be able to see the winemaking process in action. Additionally, many wineries in the region host special events during this time. Examples are grape stomping, harvest lunches, and vineyard tours.
The Queenstown region is known for its cool climate which can make it more challenging to grow grapes and produce wine. However, this also means that the wines produced in the region are often of very high quality, with complex flavors and aromas that reflect the unique terroir of the area.
Overall, if you’re planning a wine tour in Queenstown, the summer and autumn months are the best time to visit. Particularly during the grape harvest season from late February to early April.
10 BEST WINE TOURS IN QUEENSTOWN
Full-day Guided Wine Tour with Lunch
Tour length: 6.5 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
One of the most popular and unique wine tours in Queenstown is this Gourmet Food and Wine Tour. During this full-day tour, you will discover some of New Zealand’s finest wines from the Central Otago wine region. You will visit four vineyards including the Gibbston Valley and the Bannockburn wine regions with stops in the historic towns of Cromwell and Arrowtown. Another unique thing is that you will visit the largest underground wine cave in Australasia!
During this Queenstown winery tour, you will not only sample the delicious New Zealand wines but also get to experience a very interesting lunch! At one of the wineries, your food is cooked in a wine barrel! The five small dishes will then be matched with complementary wines by your host. Definitely some of the most all-inclusive Gibbston Valley wine tours.
Price starts from $182 USD
Private Wine Tour by Helicopter
Tour length: 5 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
The most luxury wine tour in Queenstown is this private helicopter wine tour. This experience includes wine tastings at three local vineyards and a 30-minute helicopter flight with a landing on the Remarkables Mountains. Definitely some of the most special and romantic activities in Queenstown. Perfect for honeymooners, anniversaries or other special occasions!
This wine tour starts with a pick up from your accommodation in a private luxury car. You will then drive to the Gibbston Valley in 20 minutes for your first private wine tasting. This includes some light snacks and a private wine cave tour which is the only one on the continent! Then you will get picked up by the helicopter to fly for 30 minutes over the Cromwell Basin and land on the Remarkables Mountains. Back at the winery the luxury car is awaiting you to bring you to the other two wineries. You will visit Mt Difficulty winery where you will enjoy an À la carte lunch including a glass of premium wine. After this you can stroll through Old Cromwell Town before going back to your accommodation in Queenstown in the luxury car.
Price starts from $590 USD
Lunch and Wine Tour
Tour length: 4.5 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
Looking for a fantastic lunch including tasting the best wines?! Then look no further. During this afternoon wine tour you will visit three wineries to enjoy over 16 wine tastings. Immerse your senses in New Zealand’s largest wine cave and enjoy a seasonal lunch at renowned winery restaurant, Akarua Wines & Kitchen by Artisan. You will get picked up from central Queenstown in a comfy modern minivan and learn to taste wines like a pro! This lunch wine tour is also called the ‘Valley of Vines lunch wine tour’ as the Gibbston valley is known as one of the world’s most scenic vineyard journeys. Some of the best and most inclusive wine tours in Queenstown if you want to enjoy lunch and wine tastings!
Price starts from $164 USD
Wine and Beer Guided Tour
Tour length: 3.5 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
The perfect combination of beer and wine tasting is in this tour! Depart late afternoon to three stops in the Gibbston region for tastings at each. You will visit two beautiful wineries and a brewery with lots of local craft beer on tap. A shared antipasto platter is provided at one of the locations.
With the transfer from central Queenstown included you don’t have to worry about too much alcohol in the system, so enjoy this afternoon of tasting the best local wines and craft beers!
Price starts from $126 USD
Half-day Guided Wine Tour
Tour length: 3.5 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
This is the perfect wine-tasting tour in Queenstown that doesn’t take all day. During this 3.5 hour wine tour you will visit three wineries for tastings including a cheeseboard, a wine cave tour, and sightseeing at Lord of the Rings film sites and other top attractions along the way.
You will spend the afternoon tasting New Zealand finest wines while taking in the scenery of the beautiful Central Otago wine region. Including hotel pick up and drop off you don’t have to worry about anything else!
Price starts from $123 USD
Wine Tour & Maori Culture Queenstown
Tour length: 4 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
This half-day small group tour is not only a great introduction to the Central Otago wine-growing region but will also let you experience the culture and hospitality of the local Māori community. You tour starts with a traditional Māori greeting with a ceremonial haka in a picturesque Otago location.
Then you will embark to visit several local wineries across the region and sample popular pinot noirs and sauvignon blancs including a cheese board at one of your winery stops.
Hotel pick-ups and returns are available for people staying in Queenstown.
Price starts from $133 USD
Customisable off the beaten path wine trail tour
Tour length: 6-7 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
If you want to avoid the crowds on big wineries and you prefer to have a more intimate experience, then this off the beaten path wine tour in Queenstown is for you! During this Wine trail tour you can make your own custom itinerary based on your booking selections. You’ll visit four boutique wineries with smaller vineyards famed for their quality produce and friendly staff. Nestled among spectacular mountain ranges and river gorges, this cellar door tour includes up to 20 wine tastings. Your guide will tell you everything about the four boutique, lesser known wineries you’ll visit and the complimentary hotel pick-up and drop off makes it a carefree experience! One of best of most customisable wine tours in Queenstown.
Price starts from $130 USD
The Wine Hopper Bus Queenstown
Tour length: 3-8 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
If you want to have the flexibility and freedom of only seeing the wineries in Queenstown you’re interested in, then The Wine Hopper Bus tour is for you! The Wine Hopper Bus runs an hourly circuit 6 times a day and stops at several wineries and other attractions in the Gibbston Valley. This gives you the opportunity to explore the Queenstown vineyards at your own pace. Wine tastings and food are not included, so that also gives you the freedom to pick a winery yourself.
The schedule for this wine tour is as following: Gibbston Valley Winery – Cargo Brewery – Mt Rosa Wines – Brennan Wines – Rockburn – Cellar Door.
The bus returns to Queenstown at several times throughout the day. You can be back in Queenstown at 1PM, 3PM, 5PM, or 6PM.
Price starts from $50 USD
Bike and Wine Tour
Tour length: 8 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
In for a more active tour that makes you work for the wine? Then this Bike and Wine guided tour is for you! With an E-Bike you will ride to the Gibbston Valley wineries where you can taste some of the best wines in the region. A driver will drop you off and pick you up with the bikes while you explore eight wineries along the route. You’ll be off-road for the biggest part of the day allowing you to take in the beautiful scenery of the vineyard-filled Gibbston Valley. This is the most active tour of the wine tours in Queenstown and a must-do for sportive wine lovers.
Hop on Hop off wine tours Queenstown
Tour length: 4-8 hours | Rating: 5 stars | Check availability and prices
You might have heard about a hop-on hop-off bus tour before in the bigger cities, however, Queenstown makes it a bit more special including wine and beer! With the hop on hop off bus tour you will have all the freedom you want to hop off at any of the 23 stops! These stops are a variety of wineries and beer breweries. Perfect for couples who are not only interested in wine tastings! The buses go every 45 minutes with half or full-day tickets and always return to the meeting point.
Price starts from $42 USD
About the Central Otago Wine Region
The Otago wine region is relatively new compared to other wine regions in New Zealand, with the first vines being planted in the mid-19th century. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that the wine industry began to gain momentum in this part of New Zealand.
The region’s vineyards are mainly situated in the Central Otago sub-region, which is known for its rugged, mountainous terrain and harsh climatic conditions. Temperatures can vary widely between day and night resulting in grapes with high acidity and concentrated fruit flavors.
The Central Otago wines are particularly known for its Pinot Noir, which accounts for around 80% of the region’s wine production. Otago’s Pinot Noir is characterized by its dark fruit flavors, spicy notes, and complex aromas. The Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Gris from Central Otago are also highly regarded, with many wineries producing exceptional examples of these varieties.
Visitors to the Otago wine region can enjoy a range of experiences, from wine tastings and vineyard tours to food and wine pairings and cellar door experiences. There are over 100 wineries in the Central Otago region. Ranging from small boutique wineries to larger, well-established producers, there are plenty of wine-tasting tours possible. Many of the wineries are located in picturesque settings, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
How to get around in New Zealand
To experience New Zealand to the fullest and at your own pace, renting a car, campervan or motorhome is the best way to get around. Which one of these options you choose depends on your preference and budget. If you love camping, being outdoors all day and you don’t mind a smaller living space, then renting a camper van is the way to go. It also gives you the freedom to sleep at some of the most beautiful camping spots, but for some of them you’ll have to make a reservation and plan your trip accordingly. The same goes for a motorhome which is bigger than a campervan and fits about 4-6 people. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car, camper van or motorhome in New Zealand.
Car rental New Zealand
Renting a car in New Zealand is the easiest and cheapest rental vehicle available. It will get you to all the best destinations with ease and gives you the freedom to stop for a break wherever you want. However, you should keep in mind that some roads in New Zealand are still gravel or that you have to cross shallow rivers to some destinations in National Parks. Therefore we personally recommend a mini SUV or SUV model to have enough clearance for these kind of roads.
We rented for 6 weeks a Mitsubishi ASX model and were super happy with this car!The best place to book your rental car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare different car models, prices, companies and terms and conditions. You can also check Rental Cars to compare at which platform you can get the best deal. Make sure to secure the booking of your rental car as soon as possible to have the lowest price possible. Prices go up the closer you get to the pick up date.
Campervan rental in New Zealand
Traveling around in a campervan is one of the most popular ways for a road trip in New Zealand. With a bed, small kitchen and seating area you will have all the (basic) needs on four wheels. Make sure to check if your campervan has a shower or not because this might influence where you want to camp. A campervan allows you to camp at plenty of beautiful places, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee. It will give you a true feeling of freedom and connect you with nature.
We personally recommend to book your campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they have a wide range of Station wagons, 2-berth campervans & 3-5 berth campervans to hire for all budgets. All Travellers Autobarn campervan hires in New Zealand come with free unlimited kilometers, a 10% discount to premium campgrounds, 24/7 roadside assistance & long-term rental discounts. Check the availability and prices today to secure your campervan for a New Zealand dream road trip!
Must do tours in Queenstown
Queenstown is the heart of adventure activities, wine tours and is a great base to explore some other places in the South Island. Here are some tours I strongly recommend doing while you’re based in Queenstown.
A must-do in New Zealand is taking a helicopter flight. With this helicopter tour from Queenstown you will fly 20 minutes so you can see Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. The flight includes an alpine landing in the Remarkables and informative commentary from the pilot. Make sure to book in advance to secure your seat, there helicopter flights are super popular!
This activity is soo cool and I personally can recommend this strongly. If you love a bit of thrill and adrenaline then jet boating is definitely a must do in Queenstown. The very skilled driver skims the Jet Boat with 100km per hour through the narrow canyon with 360-degree spins now and then. Guaranteed laughs! Make sure to secure your seat for the jet boat a few days in advance as the boats fill up very fast!
Go on a journey through the verdant valleys and vine-clad foothills rich in gold mining history and visit some incredible boutique wineries. Enjoy a winery lunch consisting of several tasting dishes each perfectly matched by the Chief Winemaker and Head Chef, using estate wines and fresh local produce.
If you want to explore the best of Milford Sound from Queenstown then this tour is for you! There are two options to do this tour.
Option one is by coach from Queenstown to the west coast of Fiordland National Park. During this day tour you will stop at several impressive viewpoints and do the Milford Sound cruise.
Option two is a scenic flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound, including the Milford Sound cruise and a different flight path back to Queenstown. This is the ultimate Milford Sound experience!
Where to stay in Queenstown
As with everything in Queenstown, tours, restaurants, and accommodations fill up fast. So to find a great place to stay in Queenstown it is highly recommended to book your preferred accommodation (far) in advance to secure your room. You can always cancel your reservation until a certain date, so don’t wait too long to book your accommodation in Queenstown.
There is a wide variety of options in Queenstown for every budget. From dorm rooms to super luxury hotels and self-contained apartments. Here are our top recommendations.
Luxury stay in Queenstown
The Carlin Boutique Hotel is a 5-star accommodation with very luxury suites overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Some of the rooms even have a private hot tub! With a restaurant, free bikes, a fitness center and a bar, you can fully immerse yourself in luxury and the incredible views of Queenstown, the lake, and surrounding mountains.
Mid Luxury stay in Queenstown
Just a little bit out of the city centre you will find this stunning Lakeview hotel. Each room features contemporary decor, premium beds and an outdoor seating area. Only a selection of rooms includes unobstructed lake and mountain views. Their restaurant The Nest offers unique creations and delicious foraged herbs, seeds, and wild ingredients. Even if you’re not staying at Kamana Lakehouse it is worth it to try their restaurant!
Budget stay in Queenstown
Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park
The Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park has studios with private bathrooms and self-contained cabins with kitchenettes. It is a family-friendly property with kids playground and is close to everything you need in town!
More New Zealand travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the best wine tours in Queenstown and that it made it easy for you to pick the best wine-tasting tour that suits your preferences!
New Zealand’s South Island is full of many more amazing hikes and things to do. So if you’re looking for more inspiration and ideas of the best places to visit, then head over to our other New Zealand travel guides.