is located in the southern half of the South Island
of New Zealand
. It is a stunningly beautiful region with rugged, snow capped mountains, clear blue rivers, deep gorges and picturesque alpine lakes. The nearest major towns are Queenstown
, Wanaka, Crowell and Alexandra.
An important step in the development of the Central Otago wine region was the identification of classical French and German grape varieties that suited the 'terroir'. The principal varieties are Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, all producing excellent wines.
The South Island landscape is dominated by the Southern Alps mountains which run from Fiordland in the South-West to Marlborough in the far North-East. These rugged mountains have a significant influence on South Island weather patterns with distinctly wetter conditions in the west and significantly drier and hotter in the east. These weather extremes become even more apparent in the semi-arid valley floors of Central Otago, surrounded by the higher alpine mountains in the west, craggy hills to the south and dry, tussock clad hills to the east. The nearby resort towns of Wanaka and Queenstown lie on the shores of two of New Zealand's largest and deepest glacial carved lakes with Lake Wakatipu the 3rd deepest in New Zealand at 380m deep. These lakes also play an important moderating role on our weather creating localised microclimates.
The soils of the Central Otago wine region soils are typically a mix of schisty gravels and sandy loam with relatively low fertility and excellent drainage. The majority of the prime vineyard sites are located on north facing, sunny slopes. Many are also close to rivers or lakes, offsetting some of the high frost risks in spring and autumn time.
These are all conditions that lend themselves to producing world-class wines in what is the southern-most wine region in the world. This important New Zealand wine region bears many weather and climatic similarities to other great cool-climate wine regions such as Burgundy, Alsace, the Mosel and Oregon.
Queenstown is the closest international gateway to the lower South Island, Central Otago, Wanaka, Fiordland and Milford Sound. Queenstown is also famous for a myriad of adventure activities from bungy jumping, jetboating to sky diving.
What is less known is the wide selection of non-adventure Queenstown activities and attractions that are available. We highly recommend taking time to plan Queenstown holidays to not only include adventure options and wine tours
but to also consider allowing time to:
- Enjoy the ambience of Queenstown
- Relax in a Queenstown bar
- Enjoy one of many Queenstown walks
Take one of several Queenstown helicopter flights
- Try fishing with a Queenstown fishing charter
- Picnic in the gardens or by the Queenstown lake
- Enjoy fine dining in a Queenstown restaurant
- Take a nature guided walk
- Play golf at one of several Queenstown golf courses
Ski: Winter weather brings the snow with numerous options for ski touring, heliskiing and downhill skiing
Central Otago and Queenstown weather changes with the four seasons. Each season brings new colours and delights and there is always a good reason to visit.
(September, October and November)
A delightful time of year with clear crisp days, snow still on the mountains and spring flowers. The weather is probably the least stable with generally windier conditions and November is the wettest month of the year (mean November rainfall - 95mm). To put the rainfall in perspective the mean rainfall in November in Milford Sound is 688mm (27 inches), so really Queenstown is a relatively dry. You can also expect temperatures to range from 10 to 22 degrees celcius with generally cool nights but warm days.
(December, January and February)
A great season for the outdoors with so much to do in the Queenstown area from hiking in hills, to fishing, golf and the myriad of adventure activities offered in the Queenstown area. Overall this is our driest season with February the driest month of the year. Day time temperatures can range from 18 to 30 degrees celcius.
(March, April and May)
This is the season for photographers and wine lovers with the wonderful golds and russets of Autumn and plenty of activity in the vineyards. Early Autumn is still quite warm with temperatures in the high 20's still possible but by May the days are a cooler at 15 to 22 degrees celius.
(June, July and August)
By mid June the Snow has arrived again and Queenstown turns into a picturesque Ski Resort town. Surprisingly this is the driest season and of course easily the coldest with temperatures typically between -5 and 8 degrees celcius.