North Otago… where is North Otago?
This interesting area has a quite a big claim to fame… the birthplace of Richie McCaw, who was raised in Kurow, which of course makes it one of New Zealand’s hallowed grounds. But what else does it offer?
North Otago comprises farming districts around Ōamaru, coastal settlements to its south, and the Otago side of the upper Waitaki Valley.
So in addition it hosts the Oamaru Blue Penguin colony, (they are so cute) you can adopt one here, The Tōtara Estate, which processed the carcasses for New Zealand’s first frozen meat shipment in 1882, as well as the Waitaki Museum which has a permanent display dedicated to the life of one of New Zealand’s most famous writers, Janet Frame.
But for us, what is interesting about North Otago is that it is New Zealand’s newest wine region, including the Waitaki Valley, which actually is part of both the Canterbury and Otago provinces.
Located two hours north and over some substantial ranges from Central Otago and four hours south of north Canterbury, it is a region to dive into and explore its interesting aromatic wines, Pinot Noir and its subtle terroir.
The area was first planted in 2001 and the vineyards are mostly small, intensively managed and produce a range of distinctive cool climate wines. Most of the vineyards are within 20km of Kurow, some 65km from the East Coast (maybe some of the McCaw magic rubbed off?).
They say that the characteristic cool climate, with warm summers and long, usually dry, autumn seasons cause the wines to display their distinctive minerality and complexity of fruit flavours.
The main grape varieties are Aromatics, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling.
Here is a list of wineries to check out from the Waitaki Valley:
- Black Stilt
- Earth Keepers
- John Forrest
- Kurow Estate
- Lone Hill
- Ostler Vineyard
- Otiake Estate
- Pasquale Viticultura
- Q Wine
- Valli Vineyards
- Waitaki Braids
If you want to visit this hidden gem you can check out their tourism website here. Imagery has been kindly provided by Q Wine.