Waipara Valley

Visit Waipara Valley, North Canterbury, NZ

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  • Waipara Valley is a wine-growing region in the Hurunui District - a hilly region between the Canterbury Plains and Kaikoura Peninsula. The town of Waipara is on the banks of the Waipara River, and is about 60 km north of Christchurch.

    There are more than 80 vineyards in the Waipara Valley, which provides a sheltered climate and alluvial and loamy soils that are especially noted for growing Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Vineyard tours are popular, and many wineries offer accommodation and dining.

    The resort town of Hanmer Springs is less than one hours’ drive north-west, and the popular whale-watching town of Kaikoura is a little over one hour north.

    Accommodation in Waipara Valley (NZ)

    Many of the Waipara Valley’s vineyards are within walking or cycling distance of the town centre, and offer boutique accommodation and dining on-site. Luxury accommodation is also available at some vineyards in the town’s environs, and can easily be reached by shuttle transport.

    The valley also has several non-vineyard luxury lodges, including those set on farms.

    Waipara town also has hotel, bed & breakfast and backpacker accommodation.

    There are campsites for tents and motorhomes/caravans close to Waipara and further along the valley.

    Transport around Waipara Valley

    Waipara town is an easy journey of about 60 minutes along the main highway north from Christchurch. This route is travelled by inter-city bus companies and coach touring services. It is also served by the Coastal Pacific train service that runs regularly between Picton and Christchurch.

    Kaikoura, to the north, is about 90 minutes’ drive along the main highway. The mountain resort town of Hanmer Springs is about 60 minutes’ drive north-west. Both destinations are served by regular coach services. Kaikoura is also served by rail.

    Mountain bikes are available for hire, and there may be other personal transport options available, such as motorcycle, scooter or segway hire.

    There is shuttle transport available from Waipara that runs around the vineyards of the valley, and some lodges offer courtesy transport.

    Tourist Activities around Waipara Valley

    The Waipara River is a great place for relaxed picnics and swimming. The river is not commonly used for rafting and kayaking. However, white-water activity tours are available from Waipara, travelling to other, nearby rivers. Horse trekking tours of one or more days are also available.

    The small town has ornamental gardens and a sculpture park that provide pleasant short walks. Visitors can also walk to centrally-located wineries, a brewery and restaurant, and an olive orchard.

    A food and wine festival is held each year at the beginning of March, to celebrate the start of the grape harvest. Guided tours of vineyards and of the surrounding region, including Hanmer Springs, are available all year round.

    A local volunteer society operates a 1909 steam train on a 12.8 km length of track through the interesting limestone scenery of the Weka Pass in the hills west of the town. This runs two Sundays per month, except for January and public holiday weekends, when it runs every Sunday. Two antique diesel locomotives provide back-up in case of problems with operating the A-class steam engine.

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    Waipara Valley