Travel Guide to Canterbury Wine Region

The Canterbury wine region of New Zealand is located on the country’s South Island.  Canterbury is considered to be the most picturesque of all of the wine regions of the country. The area is characterized by vast expanses of open plans sweeping down from the highest mountain peaks. In terms of wine regions, Canterbury is considered to be relatively young. The first vines were planted in 1977 but today it has grown into one of New Zealand’s most well-known wine regions. The region is famous for its Riesling and Pinot Noir wines and is the fourth-largest wine-producing region in the country. Visit Canterbury for a wonderful wine and nature experience.


Find out about Wine Tasting & Tours in Canterbury to enjoy your visit the region.

Visit Cantenbury wine region with us. We prepared travel guide for you to help discover more about:

Wines of Canterbury

Places to visit in Canterbury wine region

Wild and untouched nature at its best

The Fresh and inviting cuisine of the region

The bay harbour in Akaroa in the Canterbury region
The bay harbour in Akaroa in the Canterbury wine region

Something for Every Wine Lover

The Canterbury region is most well-known for its Riesling and Pinot Noir grape varietals. Despite this, the size of the wine region means that is has a range of microclimates that allow for the growth of a range of excellent and high-quality grapes. The wines of Canterbury provide something for every wine lover.

Discover Distinctve Territories of Canterbury

The Canterbury wine region was granted Geographical Indication status in 2016. This wine region is the fourth largest in New Zealand, and currently has approximately 1383 hectares of vineyards planted. The majority of these vineyards are planted with Sauvignon Blanc, followed by Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay.

Canterbury is divided into three sub-regions

Walpara Valley sub-region is located an hour from the city of Christchurch and is one of the fastest growing sub-regions. It is here that some of the country’s best Rieslings are found. The surrounding hills of the Walpara Valley protect it from harsh weather conditions and provide it with a warmer climate than the other Canterbury wine regions.

Canterbury Plains are located in North Canterbury. In this vast area, wines are planted across the sprawling plains. The flat lands allow for easy drainage and a cooler climate. The most commonly grown grapes here are Riesling and Pinot Noir thanks to the longer growing seasons.

Waitaki Valley sub-region is located further inland and has warm summers with long and dry autumn months. This climate allows the grape varietals grown here to have a high level of intensity that are used to produce more complex wines.

Grape Varieties

Red Varieties: Pinot Noir

White Varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling

New Zealand Wines at Their Very Best

The most highly regarded wine of the Canterbury wine region is by far the fantastic Pinot Noir. Along with these, the region is also well known for the production of high-quality Chardonnay and Riesling wines. Canterbury is respected across the globe for its expressive and aromatic wines that carry a distinct air of elegance.

The Canterbury Pinot Noir is unmissable thanks to its dark berry flavours with undertones of tobacco. This Pinot Noir pairs well with meat dishes. The Rieslings of the region are known for their excellent value compared to those produced elsewhere. These aromatic Riesling wines have a well-balanced level of acidity are age extremely well. The signature Sauvignon Blanc of New Zealand is grown and produced in Canterbury.

The wines of the Canterbury region are known for offering high quality at unbeatable prices. These wines are packed with the flavours of the sun and the open spaces of this wonderful wine region.

Discover the Wineries in Canterbury to visit in order to experience the authenticity of Canterbury wines.


Places to Visit in Canterbury Wine Region

Akaroa – A French Town in New Zealand

The town of Akaroa is located on the Bank’s Peninsula on the South Island. This area is the island’s most interesting volcanic feature. The Bank’s Peninsula is made of two volcanic craters, one of which forms the Akaroa Harbor. It is as this harbor where one can find the French settlement of Akaroa. Akaroa was established by the French settles to New Zealand who have left their legacy in the town’s architecture and street names. For visitors to Akaroa, the best way to explore the town is by foot following the local map available at the information center. There are a number of wonderful restaurants offering the best in French cuisine and many charming shops and boutiques. For those with extra time, be sure to enjoy a Akaroa harbor cruise to spot the local seals, penguins and dolphins.

Akaroa Harbour from the Summit Road, Canterbury wine region, New Zealand
Akaroa Harbour from the Summit Road, Canterbury wine region, New Zealand
Kaikoura – The Home of Marine Life Encounters on South Island

The town of Kaikoura is considered the base for all marine and wildlife encounters on the South Island. The natural environment of Kaikoura is truly breathtaking. It is perfectly located between the Pacific Ocean and the magnificent Seaward Kaikoura Mountain Range. When visiting during the winter times, the town is made even more beautiful by the snow on the mountain peaks. The main attraction in Kaikoura are the marine and mammal encounters. Visitors to Kaikoura can take whale watching trips and catch a glimpse of the local fur seals. There are also many operators offering diving in the local water. Kaikoura is considered the best place in New Zealand to eat local crayfish and this is available at most of the local cafes and restaurants along the coast.

Coton’s Cottage – Canterbury’s Historical Cob Cottage

Coton’s Cottage is a small historical cob cottage built by Bentley Coton in 1864. The cottage, which consists of five rooms and an attic, is an excellent example of the earliest homes built by the pioneers of the Canterbury region. These homes were built using only the materials available on the Canterbury plains. During the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, Coton’s Cottage was extensively damaged and was rebuilt and opened to the public in 2014. The cottage and its adjacent museum are open to visitors every Sunday. Visitors are also welcome to bring along a picnic to enjoy in the reserve in which the cottage is located.

Hidden Gem – The Sports Town of Methven

Methven is considered by many as the winter wonderland of New Zealand. This sports town is a must-see not just in winter, but during all seasons.

The town is Methven is well known for its relaxed and carefree lifestyle. The people are Methven welcome all visitors with their warm hospitality and to enjoy the range of outdoor activities on offer. The most popular time to visit is in winter because of the nine ski fields that are close to the town center. During the summer month, activities that are available to visitors are hot air ballooning, scenic flights, mountain biking, and jet boating. Methven is the perfect destination for all adventure lovers.


Experience Wild and Untouched Nature at its Best

The landscape of Canterbury is extremely diverse and resembles the most perfect postcard. On the east coast of the region are stretches of silver beaches and in the South are the rugged peaks of the local mountains. This wine region provides the perfect escape for all nature lovers.  

Mount Cook National Park

The Tallest Mountain Peaks in New Zealand

The Mount Cook National Park is also known as the Aoraki National Park. This beautiful protected area is home to New Zealand’s highest mountain peaks and longest glaciers. The park is the perfect example of an alpine landscape and is easily accessible to all visitors. For those who enjoy hiking and mountain climbing, Mount Cook National Park is considered to be the best climbing area in Australasia. For those looking for a longer stay in the park, there are a number of accommodation options from mountain huts and backpackers to luxury hotels. Be sure to add the Mount Cook National Park to your itinerary and enjoy the many walks, hikes, and ski options that the park has to offer.

Mount Cook, New Zealand
Mount Cook, New Zealand

Lake Tekapo – The lake in the Dark Sky Reserve

Lake Tekapo is located in the Mackenzie Basin which forms part of the famous Dark Sky Reserve. This lake is known for being exceptionally beautiful in the day and equally dazzling at night. The bright turquoise lake sits at the foot of the dramatic Southern Alps mountain range. The bright blue and milky color of the lake is a result it’s the fine rock flour content produced by grounded glaciers. On the shores of the lake sits the magnificent Church of the Good Shephard which is an excellent photo spot for visitors. The greatest attraction is the lake is the Southern Lights – the equivalent of the Northern Lights in the southern hemisphere.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve  

Experience the Big 5 of Wildlife in New Zealand

The Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is where visitors to Canterbury can experience close encounters with the Big 5 of the country’s wildlife including the he kiwi, kaka, tuatara, kea and takahe. Visitors to the reserve can also experience feeding wild eels and relax in the beautiful natural environment. The wildlife reserve offers guided tours as well as various Maori cultural experiences. Visit the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve for a true and authentic taste of the culture and nature of wonderful New Zealand.


The Fresh and Inviting Cuisine of Canterbury

The food and drink of the Canterbury wine region are a testament to the region’s vast open spaces. Food lovers will find a wide range of cuisine types within this region. Canterbury offers the freshest in cuisine from both the land and the sea


Crayfish – The taste of the ocean

Crayfish are a type of crustacean that looks similar to a small lobster. This creature grows up to 6 inches long and is bright red in color when cooked. The coastal towns of Canterbury offer the freshest and best crayfish in New Zealand. The flavor of the crayfish meat is both sweet and delicate. Crayfish are never served with an overpowering sauce so that the taste of the meat itself can shine through. They are best enjoyed when paired with a crisp local Canterbury white wine.

Airedale – The Best of New Zealander Cheese

Airedale is one of the most famous cheeses produced in New Zealand. This is a semi-soft cheese that is made with cow’s milk. The cheese has a smooth texture with some curd holes on the surface. The flavor of the cheese can be described as milky, tangy, and salty with underlying flavors of grass. When eating Airdale, many cheese lovers describe it as melting in their mouths. Airdale is best enjoyed when paired with a Zinfandel white wine.

New Zealand Crayfish
Cheese Roll – The National Snack of New Zealand

The cheese roll is a very popular snack across the whole of New Zealand. This snack is made of rolled up crustless white bread that is filled with onion and cheese. The rolled bread is grilled and covered with butter. When visiting New Zealand be sure to enjoy a cheese roll either on its own or with a bowl of hot soup.


Share about Canterbury Wine Region:

Region Highlights

Surface: 44508
Wineries: 90
Soil: Gravel, clay, stony and alluvial
Climate: Hot and dry summers. Cool, clear and frosty winters
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Map of Wineries in Canterbury wine region

Discover the long wine tradition of Canterbury and discover some of the best wineries in this region

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List of Wineries in Canterbury wine region

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