While I was in Queenstown, New Zealand, I was excited to take a wine tour. A friend recommended Hop On Hop Off Wine Tours which brings you to both wineries and breweries in Central Otago’s Queenstown.
Hop On Hop Off Queenstown Wine Tours
It was a great way to see the area, not just to taste wine but also to do some shopping. The tour offers a list of stops, where you can hop off the bus based on your interests. You can take time to taste, shop or just see the area all day long. Then hop back on at any point. Be aware however, the wine tastings are not included in the ticket price. The tour is strictly for transporting you to the wineries/breweries etc. I actually think it is smart, as one can explore the area, shop or dine, and not necessarily drink a lot. You can also pick and choose which wine or beer tastings to partake in and how many you want to do. Packages include a half day tour or a full day.
CLICK HERE to find out more about the company and its tours from my article “Tours of Queenstown.”I hopped on the minivan in the main area of Queenstown and met Pete our driver. Since I selected the full day package, I did not want to drink wine that early. So, I asked Pete which stop had the best shopping. Immediately, he suggested Arrowtown. He explained it was like a small town frozen in 1886. There was shopping, food and some historic attractions as well.
The town is simply charming, and everything Pete mentioned was true. I especially liked the historic element of the town. Adjacent to the main portion of town was an area featuring a Chinese settlement that was built back in 1886. The small huts had super low ceilings, perfect for me at 4’10” as I jokingly pointed out to a tall Swedish couple crouched down next to me.
When I travel, I love learning about the history of the destinations I am visiting. There was quite a bit of info about the history about Arrowtown which was very interesting. If that is your thing, expect to spend a little extra time at this stop.
I pulled myself away from reading and walked back into the quaint town. The town was adorable and could have spent the whole day there wandering around…but there was wine to drink. I grabbed a quick meat pie, did lots of shopping, met two artists, and checked out a museum. There was a sweet shop that had the most amazing Russian caramel fudge.
I’ll be writing a separate article just about the town, the artists and the boutiques – it is a must hop off! FYI – follow ETG on IG @EatTravelGo for new travel article alerts.
After I hopped back on the bus, I made some friends. Jenny and Susan were New Zealand locals visiting from the North. They suggested I try one of their favorite wineries…Amisfield. These ladies apparently had already started their tasting day, and I had to catch up.
The building was spectacular. It looked like a castle from the outside. It had stone stairs leading up to the restaurant/tasting room, and the views were magnificent. Jenny and Susan ordered food along with their tasting…believe me, they needed too. There was no way that I could catch up, but it was fun to hang with them. Plus, they gave me a fabulous restaurant recommendation for later in the day. https://amisfield.co.nz
I decided to bid my new friends adieu, and departed early, as the ladies continued to order full glasses of wine. The bus arrived right on time. Pete inquired “how was it?” as he grinned ear to ear. Then he asked “what’s next?” I had already booked a tasting at Nockies Palette & Stoneridge Cellar Door which is owned by an artist. Be aware some wineries need 24 hour advanced reservations. The property was gorgeous and so beautifully landscaped. The views were off the charts. My husband would have loved it, but he was on a photo tour of his own.
My server told me about the owner as well as the history of the establishment. Michael Nock had a dream to combine his love of wine with his passion for art. The theme of the company is “where art meets wine.”
Each label is a work of art created by an artist, while each wine is crafted by an artisan winemaker. The paintings on the Georgetown Pinot Noir bottles are by Kiwi artist Reg Mombassa. The works of art on the Shiraz are the paintings of Euan Macleod and Michael Nock. The Pinot Rosé features the art of John Peart. See below for a Waitake Pinot Noir that showcased the work of artist Karen Black.
Again, I requested an all-red petite wine tasting. I was trying to pace myself, so I asked for the three top picks. Nockies Palette Pinot Noir 2017 Georgetown Central Otago was so tasty, yet rather bold for a pinot. I liked it. The Nockies Palette Georgetown Pinot Noir 2016 was also delightful with mellow tannins. This was a medium bodied red with hints of cinnamon, and dark fruit. Finally, Nockies Palette Waitake Pinot Noir 2018 North Otago offered notes of dark plum, while the flavor had a spice and fruity depth to it. The label artwork is by Karen Black.
In keeping with the art theme, the tasting room exhibits the work of Michael Nock along with additional artists. Wine & painting retreats and art classes are a big part of Nockies Palette. In addition, Michael Nock founded NockArt Foundation in 2014. It sponsors artist residency programs around the region every year. Michael and his customers understand, that encouraging creative expression and art appreciation enriches all of our lives. https://nockiespalette.com
Next, I decided it was time to have a tasting at Gibbston Valley. This was also a recommended place to dine by the tipsy ladies I had just met. I requested a demure tasting (red only), as it had been a full day of sipping wine. Le Maitre Riesling 2018 Central Otago New Zealand was included. This savory red had notes of dark berry, along with vanilla and a hint of citrus. I loved the long finish.
I also really enjoyed the Le Maitre Pinot Noir 2015 Central Otago New Zealand. The complex red offered deep cherry with oak, as well as a tinge of cocoa. Then I fell in love with the Gibbston Valley School House Pinot Noir 2021. More dark berries brought a beautiful fruit bomb, with nuances of licorice, and chocolate. I also had a delicious late lunch at Gibbston Valley. https://www.gibbstonvalley.com – Stay tuned for the review.
There were plenty more stops to make, but alas I had an enough wine for today. Of course, that is the beauty of this tour. You can do as much or as little as you want. If you are visiting New Zealand, the Hop on Hop off Wine Tours is the perfect way to see the area. I highly recommend it. Be sure to check out the website for up-to-date info – https://hoponhopoffwinetours.com/
CLICK HERE for more info about the company as well as other tours out of Queenstown, New Zealand.
ETG also encourages you to visit New Zealand’s official tourism website – https://www.newzealand.com